After browsing the internet and coming across the pink lake in Senegal; I had a think and wondered to myself, can you swim in Lake Retba?
I did some thorough research and this is what I found.
Yes. You can swim in Lake Retba as it is completely safe for humans. The reason for the pink colour is due to the high salt content attracting a bacteria called ‘Dunaliella Salina’, this bacteria produces a red colour which is the reason for the pink colouring. The bacteria are completely harmless to humans, making the lake just like any other area of water with a high salt concentration. In-fact swimming in the pink lake would be just like swimming in the dead sea, just with more colourful and attractive looking water. It would be recommended to go in the lake if you have any cuts or wounds as the salt would be very good for healing the wounds, it would just be unpleasant and painful for a short amount of time.
So, yes, you can definitely swim in Lake Retba! But should you? Is it worth visiting the pink lake of Senegal or is it a waste of your time? I took my research even further and found out some extra pointers that are crucial to know before swimming in the lake.
How To Swim In Lake Retba
If you find yourself staying in the capital city Dakar, then the great pink lake could be very worth visiting.
Dakar is full of tourist attractions that you may find fitting to go to during your stay in the west of Africa.
However, in my opinion, Lake Retba is far superior to them all. With only 28 other lakes like it in the whole world, visiting this natural beauty could be a once in a lifetime experience.
There are many tours that will take you to the pink lake itself. However, quite a lot of these have very strict rules about swimming in the lake. To put it simply, not very many of these tours want you to actually swim in the lake.
Not to fear though, as I have spoken to many tour guides to find the very best booking for those of you who want to do more than just visit the lake.
My research lead me to the conclusion that the best tour to take to swim in Lake Retba, would be the 2-day Lake Retba tour with one of the days being spent in the desert of Lampou.
When booking this tour, you can expect to receive helpful tour guides who speak English, French and Spanish.
Day 1 will consist of visiting Lake Retba and swimming in its pink waters if you wish to. You will also be taken to the sand dunes where you will see them while in a Raid 4×4. As this is a 2-day tour, accommodation and food will be included in the initial booking cost!
Day 2 is where you will be visiting the desert of Lampou. African dancing, candlelit meal and a camel ride in the dunes all are included.
This is undoubtedly the best tour to book if you are looking to swim in Lake Retba.
Do Fish Swim & Live In Lake Retba?
So, we now know that the pink lake is completely safe for humans to swim in.
But, is it safe enough for fish to swim, live and survive in Lake Retba?
The answer is yes!
I know…I was surprised as well. I find it hard to believe that fish are actually able to survive in water with this much salt content.
The fish living in this pink lake are not the average fish that you find in other bodies of water. Instead, these fish have adapted to the lake’s high salt concentration by learning how to keep their water levels balanced. They are able to do this as they have evolved over the years and have learnt different ways to pump out the extra salt.
The fish themselves are much smaller than the average however, due to saltwater fish dwarfism. There are also not that many of these fish in the lake, and due to their small size, it would be very easy to assume that there are no fish in the lake at all when visiting.
A fun fact though, is that fishermen extract salt from the lake and use it themselves and also sell it for preserving fish. The salt is sold to other villages and cities in the country so that they can also have their share of preserving their food.
Where Is Lake Retba?
This magnificent and stunning lake lies in the territory of Senegal in western Africa.
In fact, it is only about an hours drive from the country’s capital city, Dakar. The city has a population of around 1 million and it stands as the heart of Senegal.
With a number of great tourist attractions such as the Mosque of the Divinity, N’Gor Island and the Gorée Island that showcases the history of slave trading; Lake Retba is in great company.
The lake is valued highly by the people of Dakar and other nearby villages, as it acts as their way of preserving food and trading with other cities in the country.
Photo Source: Pabifaye
Is Lake Retba Worth Visiting?
The pink lake of Senegal is undoubtedly a beautiful sight to behold.
The lake is not always so showing of its natural pink colour. If you really want to see this lake in all its glory, then it is recommended that you visit it in the dry season (November through to June).
I would recommend really trying to visit the lake within these months, otherwise, the lake will look more like an orangy-red colour; not appearing half as beautiful.
I truly believe that if you chose the right tour, then you will not be disappointed when visiting the lake.
Senegal and Dakar itself, have lots going for them when it comes to natural beauty and tourist attractions.
What may seem like an unpopular location to visit for tourists, provides for a unique experience that is like no other.
Lake Retba provides a great unique experience near a capital city that is full of history. I would have no doubts recommending this place to someone who loves nature and the unusual things that this Earth has given to us!