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Expedition Subsahara

With its colonial architecture, bustling markets and secluded beaches, Senegal is a stunningly beautiful country. One popular tourist attraction is Lake Retba. Known as Lac Rose by locals, the blush pink phenomenon sits Just north of the Cap Vert Peninsula of Senegal, northeast of the capital city Dakar. For two decades, the lake marked the end of the Dakar Rally — a popular off -road race that moved to South America in 2008. Drivers could celebrate their victory or drown their woes in the strawberry colored lagoon. 

The distinct color, which ranges from a pale hue to a vivid blood red, comes from the salt loving microorganism Dunaliella salina combined with high mineral concentration and the intensity of the summer sun. The deepest, most intense color can be seen during the dry season, from November to June. 

Separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a row of dunes, the lake also provides a livelihood for hundreds of West African men and women. The salt content of the lake rivals that of the Dead Sea, exceeding 40% salinity in some parts. Using ample amounts of shea butter to protect their skin, salt harvesters collect some 24,000 tons of the mineral from the lake each year. 

Whether you’re enticed to visit by an opportunity to swim in the lake, the salt industry on the shores, or you are just looking for a unique experience, Lac Rose is truly a phenomenal sight to behold. 

*** Photos by Aida Dapo

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