Geoparks Africa
World Heritage Sites

The Rose Lake of Senegal is Red, But its Bitter waters Can Turn Anything Blue

Lake Retba

Lake Retba (Lac Rose)  is a pinkish colored Water Body found in Senegal.

Strangely the Rose Pink lake is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by only a few narrow sand dunes.

Lake Retba has a very high salt content, in fact it said to contain more salt than the Dead Sea.

The lake’s pink color comes from a type of bacteria attracted to the lake because of its high salt content.

The Lake is almost similar to the other high saline Lake Natron in the Northern Tanzania which is within the UNESCO Global Geopark landscape of Ngorongoro.

The lake is very small in size, it is only 3 square kilometers.

The lake’s pink color comes from a type of bacteria attracted to the lake because of its high salinity water content.

Harvesting salt from Lake Retba

The lake is essentially very small in size, measuring only three (3) square kilometers.

On the shores of Lake Retba you will see huge mountains of freshly raked salt piles collected in huge mounds.

Senegal harvests much of its domestic and commercial salt from the Pink Rose Lake Retba.

Lake Retba is located in the Dakar Region, Senegal’s most westerly region.

Mapped within he department of Rufisque, it is also the easternmost lake of the three water bodies on the Cap Vert Peninsula.

Lake Retba, locally known as Lac Rosa, is also a shallow lake, with a maximum depth of just three meters.

The sandbanks surrounding the lake contain samphire bushes that can tolerate the lake’s high salt content.

There are no major towns along the shores of Lake Retba, with Dakar, however the country’s capital, located 30 kilometers away.

Records indicate that Lake Retba was once a freshwater body until sometimes in 1980s when a prolonged drought period changed its water composition into brine.

Today, Lac Rosa is said to be the world’s second saltiest water body after the Gaet’ale Pond found in Ethiopia.

Retba’s salt content is equal if not more than that of the Dead Sea.

The lake’s salt content sometimes reaches 40 Percent, making it impossible for most organisms to survive in its water.

The high salinity is caused by the seawater inflow and the high evaporation rate.

Lake Retba is the driving factor behind Senegal’s salt producing industry.

More than 3000 people in the Dakar Region are employed as salt collectors in the lake.

The salt collection is risky and labor-intensive work. The workers cover their bodies with shea butter and dig through the sand with shovels. The lake produces up to 34 million kilograms of salt annually.