Lac Rose or Pink Lake is a freak of nature! Nature has a weird way of distributing some ‘gifts’ unequally. Aside countries like Canada, Spain and Azerbaijan who are beneficiaries of this unique nature’s “gift”, Senegal is the only African country that got its fair share. Indeed Lake Retba, nature’s stunning pink gift to Senegal, has been a popular tourist delight in this West African city over the years.
Popularly referred to as Lac Rose by locals, the lake is situated on the Cap-Vert peninsula and 35km north of Dakar. It is less than an hour drive from Dakar and is separated only by some narrow dunes from the Atlantic Ocean.
The vibrancy of Senegal’s music and pop culture can indeed be compared in magnitude to the high saline content of the Lake Retba. The lake got its exceptional pink colour from the activities of Dunaliella Salina bacteria which is attracted by the lake’s salt content. This bacteria produces a red pigment with which it absorbs the sunlight thereby giving Lac Rose its unique pink colour.
With a depth of three metres and a size of three square kilometres, tourists will find Lac Rose an exciting spot for adventure and photo ops.
Aside from the lake’s tourism potentials, it is estimated that as much as 1,000 people work around Lake Lac on a daily basis, harvesting 24,000 tons of salt each year. Over 70% of this is exported around West Africa, especially to Cote d’Ivoire.
Adventurous tourists can swim in the salty lake as long as they rub a generous quantity of shea butter on their skin.
A cruise on a pirogue (wooden canoe) around the lake wouldn’t be a bad idea too.
What’s more, tourists visiting the lake for the first time will surely be thrilled by the contrasting sizes of the salt mountains packed up by the lake’s shore as well as the gold sand dunes on the other side of the lake.
Visiting Senegal without seeing Lac Rose is like going to Rome without seeing the Pope, or something similar to that. You don’t want to miss this beautiful experience. Enjoy!