There is a peculiar lake less than an hour from Senegal‘s capital city that will undoubtedly catch the unwary visitor’s attention due to its unusual yet vivid pink color.
Lake Retba: All To Know About The Pink Lake of Senegal
Lake Retba (or Lac Rose as it is known by locals) is only separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a few narrow dunes and, as expected, has a high salt content. Its salinity is comparable to the Dead Sea, and during the dry season, it exceeds it.
The Dunaliella salina bacteria, which is attracted by the lake’s salt content, is responsible for its distinctive pink color. To absorb sunlight, the bacteria produce a red pigment, which gives the lake its distinct color.
Lake Retba’s high salt content makes it difficult for many living things to survive, so it is primarily used for salt production and as a tourist destination.
In fact, if you choose to visit the lake, you will frequently see salt collectors at work there, and the lake’s shores are piled high with collected salt. This salt is extracted from the bottom of the lake by locals using their hands, then placed in baskets and transported to the shore, where it is primarily used to preserve fish.
There isn’t a significant town built along the lake’s shores, despite its small size of 3 square kilometers (about 1,1 square miles).
You will be astounded when visiting the lake by the contrast between the mountains of salt piled up next to its shore, the pink color of the lake, and the golden sand dunes on the opposite side. Before the famous Dakar Rally moved to South America, the lake served as the rally’s finish line.
Swimming is permitted in the lake due to the Dunaliella salina bacteria, which gives the lake its distinct color. Locals who extract salt from the lake use shea butter, which is derived from the shea nut tree.