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aka Lac Rose or The Pink Lake
First things first: is it or isn’t it? The answer is, well, kinda. Let me explain…
My first ever Senegal trip in 2017 was a birthday gift to myself. The west African country had been on my travel wish-list for ages. Honestly speaking, in this social media age, there were three sights, which kept popping up on my timeline and finally convinced me to book that ticket; the African Renaissance Monument, the Great Mosque of Touba and the Pink Lake. When you google photos of Lake Retba - also known as Lac Rose - and see the dazzling pink colour, your fingers will be twitching to hit “book” on that Senegal flight ticket too.
Just an hour’s drive away from Dakar, Lake Retba has emerged as a top tourist destination and Instagram favourite. Lac Rose has a salt-loving inhabitant to thank for its name and fame: the micro-algae dunaliella salina. The lake’s salt content is said to be on a par with the Dead Sea’s. Unsurprisingly, D. salina is abundantly present and produces a rose-coloured pigment when absorbing sunlight. This gives the lake its impressive coral hue.
Is it really pink? Well, kinda. I visited the lake in September, just missing the reportedly best, or should I say peak pink period between November and June. Although not soaked in the intense flamingo pink shade that I had seen online, Lake Retba was definitely worth the trip. Learning about and meeting some of the workers who engage in salt harvesting was both interesting and eye-opening.
If you’re travelling as a group, or simply want to fulfil an action hero fantasy, you might be interested in hiring quad bikes to cruise the surrounding sand dunes. After all, the Dakar Rally used to have its finish line here! There is also an option to explore the lake’s adjacent area by horse. I booked my trip with Andaando Tours.