With their sunrise pink plumage and delicate dance moves, flamingos are the kind of bird that people travel across the world to witness. However, to see these spectacular birds in the wild, it’s essential to visit the proper habitats. Here are some tips on where to find wild flamingos in Africa:
The Flamingo’s Natural Habitat
In Africa, both lesser and greater flamingos can be found in large numbers if you know where to look. Despite their ballerina-like appearance, flamingos have evolved to live in some of the planet’s most extreme wetland environments, including caustic ‘soda lakes’, salt pans and hypersaline lagoons. As wading birds, they prefer shallow waters where they can easily feed on the algae, small insects, crustaceans, small fish and molluscs that are in the water.
Most Popular Flamingo Breeding Grounds in Africa
Lake Natron, Tanzania
Situated at the base of Africa’s only active volcano Oldonyo Lengai (Mountain of God), Lake Natron is one of the most alkaline lakes in the world. Due to its extremely high saline levels, the lake is hostile to practically all forms of life, however it offers the ideal environment for a cyanobacteria known as spirulina (Arthrospira fusiformis), to grow. As spirulina is the main food source for lesser flamingos, the birds flock there every year by the millions to feed and breed. Approximately 75% of the world’s lesser flamingos depend on Lake Natron during the breeding season, making it the most important breeding site for lesser flamingos in the world. In addition to serving as the main food source of lesser flamingos, spirulina is also responsible for the birds’ famous bright pink and orange colouring.
BEST TIME TO GO: September through to December for wonderful displays of flamingos.
WHERE TO STAY: Lake Natron Tented Camp
Set in a grove of trees adjacent to the shores of the lake, Lake Natron Tented Camp is a relaxed and simple safari camp offering 9 spacious and clean tents each with their own shower, comfortable bed and private veranda. Overlooking Lake Natron, the camps fully stocked bar and candle lit restaurant are the perfect place to enjoy an ice-cold drink and a scrumptious meal.
Lake Bogoria, Kenya
Feeding on the abundant algae that grows in the warm and shallow waters, Lake Borogia’s bubbling thermal springs and steaming geysers are home to massive amounts of flamingos. With flocks capable of reaching the millions at peak times of the year, it is home at times to one of the world’s largest populations of lesser flamingos and witnessing these legions of fuchsia flamingos wading through the pink-tinged water is a sight to behold. Previously preferring to visit Lake Nakuru, intense farming in the area has caused the flamingos to favour Lake Borgoria.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: The flamingos are at Lake Bogoria for most of the year, making it worth a visit at any time of the year.
WHERE TO STAY: Lake Bogoria Spa Resort
Located on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Bogoria Spa Resort is the only accommodation in Kenya with a naturally heated Spa pool, and is known as a place of healing place because of the therapeutic values associated with the spa and the hot spring geysers. The resort offers a wide choice of accommodation designed to suit the needs of every traveller.
Makgadikgadi Salt Plans, Botswana
BEST TIME TO VISIT: December through May are the best months wildlife viewing and birding at the pans.
WHERE TO STAY: Nata Lodge
Offering 22 luxury thatched chalets built on stilts, and 10 custom designed Meru tents, Nata Lodge is an oasis set among the Mokolwane palms on the edge of the pans. It is conveniently situated close to the entrance to the Nata Sanctuary and is just off the main road, 10 km from Nata village, making it the ideal base for travellers wanting to see the flamingos, and other wildlife, within the Nata Sanctuary.
To book your safari to see flamingos in the wild, get in touch with us!