Pink Lake in Senegal – Lac Rose

When I first saw the candy pink color of Lake Retba on the Internet, I immediately wanted to go there! The lake is commonly called Lac Rose, which translated literally means, Pink Lake. Retba is a natural marvel, known for its unique pink color and high salinity. This unusual place is a short 30 km from Dakar. The lake not only attracts numerous tourists, but the residents of Dakar as well, who dream of owning a house in this beautiful area.

Famous for its sandy terrain, in the past, Lac Rose was the finish point of the well-known Dakar Rally. Apart from the dunes and a large amount of salt, you will find beautiful nature and the Atlantic Ocean, situated only a few hundred meters from the lake.

When to go to Lac Rose?

I remember my disappointment when I saw the lake from faraway, the color was more gray rather than pink. However, as soon as I approached the water I noticed its beautiful pink color. The intensity of the color is stronger during the dry season, which lasts from October to June. In the rainy season, the color fades and the lake becomes grayish. I went in December and the lake changed its colors several times. Depending on the strength of the wind and the angle of sunlight, it would magically switch from copper to a rosy color.

Where does the pink color come from?

The lake owes its unique pink color to Dunaliella salina bacteria, which under the influence of wind and solar intensity produce a red pigment to protect themselves from the high salt content. It is estimated that in one liter of lake water there is 380 grams of salt! In comparison, sea water contains about 30 grams of salt per 1 liter, or 10 times less. So, you can safely float on the water without any fear of drowning! The lake is also famous for its health properties. It is recommended to take 15 minutes of bathing to treat skin diseases. However, with such a high dosage of salt, longer baths can dry the skin seriously. I spent a dozen minutes in the water and after coming out my skin was covered with salt. After such a bath, skin hydration is highly recommended. Local people use popular shea butter, known for its excellent moisturizing properties.

Salt Extraction

The lake is a work place for locals, as well as Malian and Gambian people. They collect salt from the ground with flat baskets and spades, filling the pirogues that pull to shore. The collected salt is placed in piles, then dried for a few days in the sun to get a white color. The dried salt is then suitable for sale. As you can easily imagine, this is not an easy job. The men stay in the lake for several hours a day, exposing their skin to severe irritation and drying out. To relieve the salt’s corrosive effect, before entering the water, they lubricate their skin with a thick layer of shea butter.

And you, how would you feel about a bathing in a pink lake?


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