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Exploring Maharloo Lake: A Comprehensive Guide

Maharlu or Maharloo Lake, a natural beauty in the Fars province of southern Iran, near Shiraz, captivates visitors with its stunning pink color, a phenomenon caused by the activity of algae and specific microorganisms in its water.

Covering an area of approximately 200 square kilometers, the lake’s salt concentration is so high that it creates an ideal environment for salt production.

Geographically positioned, Maharloo Lake stands out as a prime tourist attraction in Fars province, offering a unique glimpse of nature.

Located about 25 kilometers southeast of Shiraz, the capital of Fars, accessing it is relatively easy.

Ecologically, the lake serves as a vital habitat for various species of migratory birds, including flamingos, pelicans, and ducks, creating a breathtaking scene for visitors. These birds travel to the region in different seasons, adding to the lake’s ecological diversity.

Despite its natural and ecological beauty, Maharloo Lake faces challenges. Climate change, excessive water extraction from its feeding sources, and industrial activities impact its water level and ecosystem.

Protecting this lake requires attention and effective conservation measures to preserve its natural and environmental values for future generations.

Why is Maharlo Lake Pink?

Maharlu Lake
Maharlu Lake

The unique pink color of Maharloo Lake is the result of the activity of specific microorganisms called Dunaliella salina. These microorganisms produce beta-carotene under certain conditions of high salinity and intense light, which is the primary factor in coloring the water pink or red.

In addition to Dunaliella salina, the presence of bacteria such as Halobacteria in the water’s high salinity can also contribute to the production of the pink color. These bacteria, like Dunaliella salina, thrive in high salinity conditions and produce similar coloring substances.

The high salinity of the water in Maharloo Lake, caused by significant evaporation of water leaving behind minerals like salt, along with the region’s specific climate conditions such as abundant sunlight and high temperatures, creates an ideal environment for the growth of these microorganisms.

The best season to visit Maharloo Lake

The best season to visit Maharloo Lake varies due to different seasons and weather conditions affecting the lake’s status in Shiraz. From autumn to early spring, the lake’s water level rises due to plentiful rains. As the water level increases, the lake’s signature pink color becomes paler. However, as the weather warms up and water begins to evaporate, the pink hue intensifies.

Maharlu Lake
Maharlu Lake is located near Shiraz, in southern Iran.

Maharloo Lake is a seasonal lake, with most of its water evaporating during the summer. This means the lake’s water status changes throughout the year. If you wish to see the lake’s beautiful pink and red colors more vividly and intensely, mid-summer is the recommended time to visit. During mid-summer, the evaporation of Maharloo Lake‘s water showcases its pink beauty at its peak.

Therefore, the ideal times to travel to Maharloo Lake range from autumn to mid-spring and especially in mid-summer.

The spotlight, however, belongs to a crimson-hued alga, affectionately dubbed “red killer” or scientifically known as “Dunaliella salina.” As the sun orchestrates its magic and temperatures ascend, this alga releases a rosy substance, transforming the lake’s waters into a painter’s palette of pinks and reds.

How to Get to Maharlu Lake?

Maharlu Lake
The lake turns pink due to high salt concentration.

Accessing Maharloo Lake via direct public transportation can be challenging, but you can first travel to nearby cities such as Shiraz. From there, opting for a taxi or local tour operators might be a suitable option. Various tourism companies offer tours to Maharloo Lake. These tours usually include transportation, a tour guide, and sometimes refreshments. To book a tour, you can visit reputable tourism websites like OrientTrips, which offer unique travel experiences in Iran.

If you are traveling from Shiraz, the route to Maharloo Lake is relatively straightforward. You should head south out of Shiraz and then towards the Shiraz-Fasa road. After about 45 kilometers, you will need to turn off the main road and onto a side road towards the lake. Signposts along this route will help you find your way correctly.

Maharloo Lake’s Economic Impact

Maharloo Lake not only serves as a natural tourist attraction but also plays a vital role in the economy due to its abundant salt reserves. It stands as a significant source of both industrial and edible salt in the Fars province. This lake holds high commercial and industrial importance, contributing significantly to the country’s profitability.

Beyond salt, Maharloo Lake supports the growth of a type of algae called Dunaliella salina, utilized in the food industry, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals as a pigment. This algae serves as food for a type of brine shrimp known as Artemia, which thrives in salty waters and is found in this lake. Artemia from Maharloo Lake is used in the ornamental fish breeding industry, caviar, and shrimp farming, generating substantial export profits.

Maharloo Lake’s Wildlife

Maharlu Lake
Maharlu Lake’s ecosystem is vital for migrating birds and wildlife.

Maharloo Lake serves as a wildlife refuge and habitat for migratory birds. If environmental conditions are favorable, these birds stay until mid-autumn in the wetland areas of Fars, including Maharloo Lake. The most significant bird species in this lake is the flamingo.

The lake’s salinity makes it a suitable habitat for this bird; this is because the flamingos’ primary food source, a salt-loving crustacean called Artemia, is abundantly found in Maharloo’s waters.

Maharloo Lake Photos

Besides flamingos, birds such as grebes, coots, various ducks, as well as the greater flamingo, little grebe, various sandpipers, herons, mallards, and teal inhabit this wetland.

Due to the excessive salinity of the water, no fish live in this lake. However, reptiles such as lizards, geckos, snakes, and turtles can be observed in the surrounding environment. Some amphibians also live near the lake. Around Maharloo Lake, diverse animal species such as jackals, wild cats, hyenas, and foxes are also spotted.

In Closing

Discover Maharloo Lake
It covers an area of approximately 250 square kilometers.

For those seekers of extraordinary experiences, Maharlu Lake in Shiraz awaits. A realm where verses and nature intertwine, leaving an indelible imprint on those fortunate enough to witness its ever-shifting beauty. Join us on a pilgrimage to this pink paradise, where the echoes of history and the water’s hues converge, weaving a symphony of wonder.

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SURFIRAN Editorial Team

SURFIRAN is an Iranian tour operator and travel agency offering tour packages to those interested in Iran. It provides the tourists with services needed to travel to Iran, offers tours across the country, and assists the tourists in obtaining Iranian visas.

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