The incredible pink water of the Retba lake

Lake Retba is located 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 pink water of Lake Retba, Senegal

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.

the shore of Lake Retba, Senegal

Tucked between ocean and dunes, this salt lake will amaze you with its shifting colours of mauve and purple.

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.

Lake Retba, Senegal

The watercolour 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 primary 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 an exciting drive around the lake and visits the close local village plenty of lovely kids.

Salt workers along the shore of Lake Retba, Senegal

Need to Know about Lake Retba

1) When to go

The climate of Senegal is tropical, with a long dry season from November to May (March, April and May are the hottest months with the temperature that could reach 35°C-40°C), and a wet season from June to October (showers are more intense in the south). The best months for visiting the country are November, December and January when the temperatures are more bearable. We visited Senegal in May, and the weather was always sunny, but quite hot above all in the south.

2) How to get there

The easiest way to reach the Pink lake is to book with a local tour operator. 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. Check on Viator the tour packages for visiting the pink lake and Dakar.

Another option is to haggle with a taxi driver for a private trip. The journey back from Dakar to Lake Retba is around 35.000 CFA (60 USD). You can also arrange the tour with the help of your accommodation.

3) Where to sleep

Usually, all the people plan to sleep in Dakar, but there are several affordable guesthouses around the lake as well.

Our trip

During our trip around  Senegal we slept at Chez Salim Lac Rose, a few minutes walk from the lake and close the big dunes facing the ocean. They also arrange the trip around the lake with a 4×4 truck. Here you can find a beautiful moment of relaxing swimming in the big pool after your visit.

The dark pink water of Lac Rose, Senegal
Salt Workers at Lac Rose, Senegal
The village next to the Lake


  1. Looks lovely! We’re planning a trip to Senegal in a couple of months and stumbled upon your article. Thanks for the great info!

    • Cristiano Reply

      Thank you! Senegal is fantastic, we are sure you’ll love it!

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