The Lake Retba
Less than an hour away from the capital city of Senegal
there is an unusual lake that will surely catch the unsuspecting visitor’s eye
because of its unusual yet vivid pink colour.
Lake Retba (or Lac Rose as it is known by locals) is
separated only by some narrow dunes from the Atlantic Ocean and, as expected
its salt content is very high. Its salinity content compares to that of the
Dead Sea and during the dry season it exceeds it.
Its distinct pink colour is caused by the Dunaliella salina
bacteria, which is attracted by the lake’s salt content. The bacteria produces
a red pigment in order to absorb the sunlight, thus giving the lake its unique
colour. Its colour is especially visible during the dry season (which lasts
from November to June) and less during the rainy season (July-October).
Not many living organisms are able to survive in Lake Retba because of its high
salt content, so it serves mainly as a tourist point and for salt production.
In fact, if you decide to visit the lake, you will constantly see salt collectors working at the
lake and the shores of Lake Retba are full of piles of collected salt. This salt is extracted by locals from the
bottom of the lake using their hands, then placed into baskets it is transported to the shore where it is used
mainly to preserve fish.
The lake is only 3 square kilometers big (about 1,1 square miles) and there is no major town
developed along its shores.
When visiting the lake, you will be amazed by the contrast of the mountains of salt packed up
next to the lake’s shore, the pink color of the lake’s water and the gold sand dunes on the other side of the Lac
Lake Retba (Lac
Rose): Some Interesting Facts
The lake has been the finish point of the well-known
Dakar Rally before it moved to South America.
The Dunaliella salina bacteria
which gives the lake its distinct color is completely harmless to humans and
swimming in the lake is possible.
Locals who work on extracting
salt from the lake use shea butter obtained from the shea nut
Lake Retba is not the only pink
lake in the world. There are
other lakes near Baku, Azerbaijan or in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but they are
either small or not natural.