Retba is not one of the most popular natural attractions in Africa, but it is definitely one of the most extraordinary. Located on the Cap Vert Peninsula less than an hour from the capital Dakar, the Pink Lake, as it is known locally, attracts visitors due to its unusual and rich color. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean only by wide sand dunes and predictably has huge levels of salinity. In comparison, during the dry season of the year, salt levels exceed those of the Dead Sea.
But where does the pink color of Retba come from?
The reason for this is the cyanobacteria that thrive in the lake due to its salinity. The bacterium emits a reddish hue as it attracts and absorbs the sun’s rays. This creates its unique color, which is most noticeable during the dry period from November to June. The bacterium is completely harmless to humans and swimming in the lake is allowed, but be aware of its characteristic heat, compared to warm syrup.
Workers scoop the salt with their bare hands from the bottom of the lake, put it in baskets and carry them to the shore
The pink lake is quite “shy” and does not reveal itself to everyone. Its color is very fickle and depends on factors such as light and algae. Few visitors have seen its bright pink appearance. Sometimes the lake looks darker, even brown in color.
Almost no living organisms manage to survive in the home of Retba salt, which reaches 40 percent
Therefore, the lake is mainly used as a tourist attraction and for the production of salt, of course. If you visit, you will witness the gleaners in the water and their huge mountains of salt on the shore. The locals scoop up the salt with their bare hands from the bottom of the lake, put it in baskets and carry them ashore. To protect their skin from the long hours in the water, the workers use shea butter, known in Senegal for its cosmetic properties, which is extracted from the karite tree. And as an attraction for tourists, sailing on a wooden boat is offered.
Despite the grueling heat and conditions, the local people are happy and relaxed
Retba is not the only pink representative of lakes on Earth, but it is the largest natural pool of its kind. Its area is about 3 square km, and the maximum depth is 3 meters. On Australia’s Middle Island, there is another similar phenomenon – the mysterious and isolated pink Lake Hillier, the depth of which reaches a remarkable 600 meters.
Photo: Workers remove the salt with their bare hands from the bottom of the lake, put it in baskets and carry them to the shore / iStock by Getty Images