Home » Top African Safaris » Lake Retba or Lac Rose Senegal Safari Holidays

Lake Retba or Lac Rose Senegal Safari Holidays

Lake Retba or Lac Rose Senegal Safari Holidays

There are few pink lakes in the world and one of them is in the Cap-Vert peninsula in Senegal.

Lake Retba, also called Lac Rose by locals, is a highly saline body of water — one of the highest in the world. The lake gets its color from safe bacteria in the water, which produce a red pigment to absorb sunlight.

The best time to see the lake at its pinkest is during Senegal’s dry season, between November and June.

Lac Rose or Pink Lake is a freak of nature! Nature has a weird way of distributing some ‘gifts’ unequally. Aside from countries like Canada, Spain, and Azerbaijan who are beneficiaries of this unique nature’s “gift”, Senegal is the only African country that got its fair share. Indeed Lake Retba, nature’s stunning pink gift to Senegal, has been a popular tourist delight in this West African city over the years.

Popularly referred to as Lac Rose by locals, the lake is situated on the Cap-Vert peninsula and 35km north of Dakar. It is less than an hour’s drive from Dakar and is separated only by some narrow dunes from the Atlantic Ocean.

The vibrancy of Senegal’s music and pop culture can indeed be compared in magnitude to the high saline content of the Lake Retba. The lake got its exceptional pink color from the activities of Dunaliella Salina bacteria which is attracted by the lake’s salt content, this bacteria produces a red pigment with which it absorbs the sunlight thereby giving Lac Rose its unique pink color.

Aside from the lake’s tourism potentials, it is estimated that as many as 1,000 people work around Lake Lac on a daily basis, harvesting 24,000 tons of salt each year. Over 70% of this is exported around West Africa, especially to Cote d’Ivoire.

Adventurous tourists can swim in the salty lake as long as they rub a generous quantity of shea butter on their skin.

A cruise on a pirogue (wooden canoe) around the lake wouldn’t be a bad idea too.

Tourists visiting the lake for the first time will surely be thrilled by the contrasting sizes of the salt mountains packed up by the lake’s shore as well as the gold sand dunes on the other side of the lake.

Things to do at Lake Retba or Lac Rose in Senegal

The saltiness of Lac Rose makes it easy to float. What’s more, you could take a hike to the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Other fun things to do at Lake Retba include:

Boat rides

Local floating boat rides can be arranged to enjoy the scenery of Lake Retba one of the highly Lakes in the world located an hour away from Dakar the main capital of Senegal.

Visiting nearby art galleries

There are several art galleries selling beautiful African style products and while enjoying the scenic views of Lake Retba you can do some shopping for the beautiful Senegalese African art craft.

Riding a quad bike

Quad bike rides can be arranged for rides along the Lakeshores you don’t have to be an experienced ride first-timers can get a small lesson before starting.

Camel Rides around the lake

Camel rides are pretty nice and visitors keen on riding camels will find it enjoyable along the shores of Lake Retba in the outskates of Dakar.

How to get to Lake Retba or Lac Rose in Senegal

Get a rocky bus from Dakar to the town of Keur Massar. This will take around an hour and a half due to the stops. From Keur Massar, you can then walk the crazy 6-kilometer distance on foot to Lac Rose or get a local taxi to take you there, wait and bring you back but we recommend hiring a 4×4 vehicle straight from Dakar to Lake Retba for conveniences and sometimes the road is too bumpy for a 2 wheel drive vehicle.

Best time to visit Lake Retba or Lac Rose in Senegal

During the dry season in Senegal, the salinity content of the water, which is normally very high anyway, exceeds that of the Dead Sea! Because of this, the best time to visit is definitely during the dry season, which spans from November to June.

Where to stay at Lake Retba or Lac Rose in Senegal

There are no high lodges near Retba but few options include

Hotel Toolbi

Set on the banks of Lac Rose, Hotel Toolbi has located a 3-minute drive from Niaga and a 10-minute walk from the ocean. It offers an outdoor swimming pool, a garden with a seating area, and a terrace.

The traditional rooms at Hotel Toolbi have a tiled floor, a desk, and a private bathroom with a shower. Free Wi-Fi access is provided.

A continental breakfast is served each morning in the communal lounge. Typical dishes can also be enjoyed in the evening, upon prior reservation. Ceil d’Afrique

Offering a garden and lake view, Œil d’Afrique is set in Dakar, 26 km from House of Slaves and 29 km from Dakar Grand Mosque. Offering private parking, the farm stay is 31 km from African Renaissance Monument.

National Gallery of Art of Senegal is 28 km from Œil d’Afrique, while La Galerie Antenna is 29 km away. The nearest airport is Blaise Diagne International Airport, 26 km from the accommodation.

Dakar lodge options

However Day trips from Dakar are very common and highly recommended and some of the top places to stay in Dakar include Radisson blue Hotel Dakar Sea plaza, Pullman Dakar hotel, Terrou-bi resort Dakar, and King Fahd Palace Hotel Dakar.


Talk to one of our African adventure experts and let them tailor-make your safari

Inspirational journeys