Lake Retba, is located just 50km away from the city of Dakar. The journey from Dakar to the lake takes about 1 hour and passes through Dakar’s beachfront Yoff quarter before trailing along the Atlantic ocean and through the small town of Niaga. The lake was also renowned because it marked the finish line for the Dakar Rally. This legendary desert rally took place each year from 1977 until 2007 until it was stopped due to the terrorist threat.
Tucked between ocean and sand dunes, this salt lake will amaze you with its shifting colors of mauve and purple. In fact the lake is also called Lac Rose ( Pink Lake ) for its pink waters, caused by cyanobacteria in the water that produce a red pigment to withstand the salt concentration.
The water color depends on the time of day and amount of sunlight and it is particularly visible during the dry season, from November through May. Since the lake has a salt content of almost 40%, there is a small salt collecting industry and for most of the year salt fishing is the major activity of this area. During a trip around the lake Retba, it’s easy to see many workers in the shallow to harvest salt and big piles of white salt lining the shores. It’s also interesting drive around the lake and visit the close local village plenty of lovely kids.
How to get there: the easiest way is to book with a local tour operator and the price is around 90$. Usually the trip is combined with Bandia Reserve, a small park where you can have a safari to spot numerous herbivores species of Senegal like gazelles, warthogs, monkeys, tortoise but also some rhinos and giraffes. You can also arrange the trip with the help of your accommodation. Another option is to haggle with a taxi driver for a private trip. The journey back from Dakar to Lac Rose is around 30.000 CFA (55$).
My trip: during my trip to Senegal i slept at Chez salim Lac Rose, a few minutes walk from the lake and close the big sandy dunes facing the ocean. They also arrange the trip around the lake with a 4×4 truck. Here you can find a nice moment of relax swimming in the big pool after your visit. Around this area you’ll find several accommodations.