Saturday, February 24, 2024 | Sha'ban 13, 1445 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

It’s the season of pink lakes in Oman

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Travelling to Sur and farther west to Ashkarah, one might stumble upon a natural phenomenon that defies the ordinary: the mesmerising pink lakes.


These stunning bodies of water captivate travellers with their vibrant hues, owing to the presence of unique microorganisms and environmental conditions that create this remarkable spectacle.


The pink lakes in Oman are seasonal, and certain specific conditions had to be met in order for them to manifest. Some years, these lakes can be larger, but there have also been instances where the lakes have totally dried out due to the country’s often challenging weather system.


This year, however, the lakes are in their full glory, which gives a lot of people an opportunity to actually go see them in person and be quite mesmerised by their unique beauty.


We had been hunting down these pink lakes every year, and from the salt ponds in Qurayat to the shores of Jaalan Bani Bu Ali to the corners of Al Ashkharah and even the remote beaches of Al Shuwaymiyyah, these lakes never fail to impress.


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Each of these pink lakes stands as a testament to nature’s artistry, showcasing a symphony of colours sculpted by environmental conditions and microorganisms.


In Oman, these marvels exhibit a subtle yet captivating pinkish tint owing to the presence of a specific variety of bacteria thriving in the hypersaline waters. Set against the stunning Omani desert backdrop, these lakes present a serene and extraordinary sight, enticing travellers with their understated elegance and the stark beauty of the surrounding landscapes.


It is frequently asked on social media how to find these lakes. What one has to understand is that the lakes are dependent on a lot of environmental factors, so while locations can be pointed out, they might be there after a couple of weeks as the water dries out.


If you’ve been dreaming of seeing and interacting with Oman’s pink lakes, the next two weeks will be the perfect opportunity. As you drive the road between Ras Al Hadd and Jaalan Bani Bu Ali, make sure to look at the left side of the road, and one of these seasonal pink lakes will definitely capture your attention not just by its size but also because of its captivating colour.


To fully appreciate these pink lakes, it actually helps to see them from a bird’s-eye view, but that doesn’t mean that their beauty diminishes if viewed from the ground.


There are stark reminders that can be eye-opening when you visit these lakes. Because of the lake’s high level of salinity, no animals usually survive, so when you walk across the lakes, you will easily find a lot of dead fish and birds preserved by the salty water’s ideal conditions.


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While it looks fun to run around and wash your feet with this salty water, it can also strip and dehydrate your skin easily, and as in the case of one of our companions, if unwashed right away, it can actually dry your skin and create some skin issues.


Salt draws moisture out of the skin, potentially leading to dehydration if one fails to replenish fluids adequately. This can cause discomfort, contribute to skin dryness, or exacerbate existing skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.


It’s important to understand that there are no clear roads to go into these lakes. A lot of visitors during our trip had to find their own parking, and some even ventured near the lakes and parked their cars right at the end of the water. Unfortunately, this destroys some of the rock formations that are entertaining and educational to watch.


Pink lakes around the world


Pink lakes are actually not exclusive to Oman. Among the renowned pink lakes, Lake Hillier in Western Australia stands as a beacon of natural wonder. Nestled on Middle Island, its surreal bubblegum-pink coloration defies logic and enchants visitors. A helicopter ride or a hike to an observation point unveils its picturesque allure, contrasting vividly against the lush greenery and blue sky.


Similarly, Lake Retba in Senegal, often referred to as Lac Rose, presents a captivating sight near the bustling city of Dakar. Its rose-tinted waters, owing to the salt-loving Dunaliella salina algae, beckon travellers to immerse themselves in this unique natural palette. The contrast between the pink water and the surrounding arid landscape paints a striking picture, especially during the dry season when the lake’s colour intensifies.


Further east lies Lake Masazirgol in Azerbaijan, where the saline waters host an ensemble of pink microorganisms, casting a delicate pinkish hue across the lake’s surface. Visitors are drawn to the serenity of this lesser-known pink oasis, offering a tranquil escape amidst Azerbaijan’s diverse landscapes.


While Lake Hillier and Lake Retba capture attention with their bold and intense hues, the lesser-known lakes like Lake Masazirgol and the unique pink lakes of Oman offer a quieter, more nuanced beauty that complements their surroundings.


Whether it’s the vivid pink of Lake Hillier or the subtle charm of Oman’s pink lakes, these natural wonders beckon adventurers to witness the breathtaking fusion of biology and geography. As travelers embark on a quest to discover the world’s marvels, these pink lakes stand as vivid reminders of nature’s extraordinary palette, each with its own tale of allure and uniqueness.


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