Balangida, Tanzanian Salted Lake

The next day after visiting Barbaig tribe, our guide Thomas was busy with other tourists, while we really wanted to get to Balangida lake, not too easy to reach on your own.

Thomas helped us in our craving, introducing Lawrence. We agreed to meet at 7.30 in the morning, and they indeed came, only 5 minutes late. Together we had breakfast, and, after a goodbye to Thomas, started for Balangida with Lawrence.


Lawrence did not speak much English, but Thomas explained that we needed to pass a police station, and three of us cannot go by one motorcycle; that is why Lawrence’s friend would drive one of us till the station, drop there (then three of us may go by one motorcycle easily) and go home. We did not know where the police station was, they kept driving, and at some point we realized that they were not going to stop. As we were taking different motorcycles and guys anyway did not speak English, trying to stop and figure out what was going on was useless. We should admit that they were driving really carefully, perhaps, because, coward Nastya annoyed them too much with her “Pole-pole, kaka” (“No hurry, brother”) before the trip.

We soon reached the lake:

Balangida is surrounded with villages of families, mining salt. Thomas mentions that the lake feeds not only Tanzania, but also Rwanda and Burundi with its salt.




Balangida territory is a nature preserve, and one has to pay for visiting it. Before our departure, Thomas wrote a note stating that we were his tourists and asking for the discount – to show when we had to pay. It worked, and we paid about 2 dollars only each.
We walked at the shore a little, and then took off the shoes (Lawrence stayed to guard them) and went into the ankle-deep lake.

We reached Balangida in the middle of working season: the lake was shallow enough to dig salt. People dag a bit further away from the shore, where it was less muddy.



The landscape of the lake is mainly formed by brownish water with the piles of dug salt on the surface.



We asked to try digging too, and the workers were very skeptical about our skills.

While some dig, others carry the carts for salt back and forth.





At the lakeshore, the salt is dried in the larger piles:


And then packed:

A lot of children work there despite the school time. When one needs something to eat, the questions about ethics of child labour and education are not that relevant anymore. It is said, that the salary at the lake is very low.



Meanwhile, the conditions are far from being good. It is extremely hot. The salt gnaws the feet skin (even 40 minutes of walk in the lake barefoot were not very pleasant); some workers had rubber boots, which are also not so easy to wear when it is so hot.
The lake is very interesting and unusual for the tourist: we have never seen a landscape like that. Its uniqueness is supplemented by the view of mount Hanang.

On the same day, Thomas guided tourists to Hanang – that is why he could not guide us. The ascent and descent take two days and cost around 50 euros per person (depending on the size of the group).
Before leaving, we washed off the salt (with the help of the workers who brought water) and walked a bit more. A man in the village brought an interesting lizard for us to see.

Together, we covered 40 kilometers and paid 10 dollars (plus entrance fee). Lawrence looked happy, while his friend seemed slightly confused, but we were not going to pay extra for their small trick. The lake became one of the highlights of our African trip, and we really recommend it to other travelers.

Having finished what we planned to see in Katesh, we went further to Singida to see another lake with dozens of flamingoes for free!

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