What happens when a shallow lake is exposed to the Greek summer sun? The water evaporates, the lake disappears and a completely different landscape appears instead. In Lemnos, this results in a giant white plane called the Aliki salt lake.
Seasons of the lake
Aliki, in the northeast of the island, is a big salty lake most of the year. It connects with the sea through a small canal in the center of kilometers of sand dunes. Through the canal, the sea water floats into Aliki, creating a wetland home to many species of birds, including even flamingos during springtime. The Aliki lake is an important place for hundreds of different bird species, part of the Natura 2000 network it is a protected part of nature.
But then summer comes. The hot sun evaporates the salty water while the canal is not big enough to lead enough water into the lake to refill it. Water disappears, leaving the white salt behind on the bottom. Entering the lake in summer feels like you’re entering a different season. Like you’re entering a snowy field, only with a temperature well above 30 degrees. It feels surreal.
Living with Aliki
The salt of the Aliki lake used to be an essential part of the locals’ way of living on the island. Under the moonlight on the hot summer nights, the locals used the enter the salt lake with their animals. They needed to collect the salt to be able to preserve their food throughout the rest of the year.
Today you can still see the locals entering the lake with buckets to collect Aliki’s salt. Although they don’t depend on the lake as they used to before, it is nice to see how the people on the island still use what nature offers them.
- The salt lake is actually one of the easiest to visit natural attractions in Lemnos. Following directions to Aliki Salt Lagoon, the lake is just 400 meters away from the main road.
- However, if you follow the dirt road south for 800 meters more, there is another spot from which you can enter the lake. This seems to be the one that the locals use.
- The salt of the lake is still used today by the locals and when they go on the lake to collect the salt, they take their shoes off. So don’t be surprised if you see piles of shoes along the lake.
- Aliki in Greek means salt pit. The Greeks were not very creative in the naming of this lake. In the country there are many Alikes, man-made salt lakes, but a natural one like this one in Lemnos I don’t know from anywhere else in Greece.
- Don’t forget your sunglasses for this one. With the strong summer sun on the white ground, it is really blinding.
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