Lac Rose is situated on Cap Vert 35 km north Dakar. This is one of the most salted lakes in the world (40%). It’s 3 metres deep and it’s possible to swim in the lake but I leave it to more brave people 😉 It is said Duniella Salina bactiera (which couses the pink colour) is completely harmless to humans. It’s a great destination for a daily trip from Dakar. Lots of tours offer half day trip to Lac Rose but there are several attractions to discover and I highly reccomend to spend the entire day there. First of all take a taxi instead of a tour, it will give you unlimited time to visit all the amazing scenery around the lake. Once you get there you will be offered several sightseeing options. Local tourism business is well developed here and they won’t let you go easily as you are the main source of money stream. Remember always be polite and explain kindly why you prefer to walk alone. It takes a while before they leave you alone, they will probably tell you stories it’s not perfectly safe to walk without a guide, which I personally think is completely untrue from what I saw. There’s always somebody who will welcome you onsite and introduce all the sightseeing options. He starts with an information that all guides at Lac Rose are free but it’s shortly followed with a lucrative offer of a jeep tour, or a quad rental or a boat trip. The prices are insane! Don’t ever agree to them! So get ready to bargain! This is what you have to do in Senegal – bargain.
- Jeep tour – 1h 40 000 F/per car. It takes you to salt minors, then to the sand dunes and the nearest beach.
- Quad renatl 45 000 F and you need to hire a second quead for a tour guide (this is what they tell you).
- boat trip 25 000 F.
What to see near lake Lac Rose?
- Hundred of local workers harvesting manually salt from the lake. The shores of Lake Retba are full of piles of collected salt.
- Sand dunes which are located just nearby the lake. No need to take jeeps if you are ready for a 45 minutes walk through the sand dunes to reach stunning empty beach.
- Beautiful wide beach.
Most important information is that you basicaly don’t need any of the above options to discover all the attractions around the lake. You can also do a loop around the lake as the path is maintained and there’s no chance you’ll get lost. A short walk from the start will introduce the landscape of salt minors and you’ll be able to see how the local people extract salt from the bottom of the lake using their hands, placing it into baskets and transporting to the shore. Every year tons of salt are exported to Europe and across Africa.
This is what we did, took a 45 min walk round the lake and then took a boat to the other side of it. The walk was accompanied by one of the local tour organizers as we promised to take a boat. I guess it was only beacuse it was a low season, otherwise they would let us alone. The good thing is the guy told us many interesting things and showed us all the tools they use while extracting the salt. Sangalkam and Niaga are two communities living on the opposite ends of the lake. They gain 380 grams of salt from 1 litre of water!
It’s possible to buy small bags of salt around the lake. There’s a lot of boats ready to take you to the other shore. The boat trip takes up to 50 minutes because the ‘captain’ uses only a stick to push off from the bottom. Boat tour was fascinating, although the lake wasn’t pink at all due to a calm weather! 😉 Lac Rose gets it’s rose color when windy thanks to Duniella Salina bacteria – a sea algae that produces a pink pigment. This bacteria is very characteristic to salty environments and there is more poink lakes around the world. There are sweet water holes near the shore for people to wash their hands and bodies while working in the high salty waters.
Getting to the other side of the lake you’ll be able to see the salt formations. Pass the cafe and the ostrich farm to reach amazing white sand dunes! Bonaba cafe is a great place to take a rest on on eof their sunbeds, especially if the heat is exhousting. We visited Lac Rose in May when the season is low and the cafe was almost empty. Sand dunes are located 10 minutes walk from the cafe. There’s your chance to follow paths of famous Rally Dakar, which spread along the powdery white sand. Another 30 minutes walk will take you up to the wide empty ocean beach. Taking a left direction to go back to the starting point – second exit fro the beach.