For any fans of arid or semi-desert regions, a bright pink lake might not seem that out of place. But for the uninitiated, it's weird.
Totally worth the visit. Best done in the summer, on a hot sunny day in the late afternoon. It needs to soak up the UV rays to turn red. Though even in December it would be red as on a photos. The color is caused by those bacteria that are called "halophiles" (salt lovers). They appear in any place where they farm salt!
Pink salt lakes and playas, and the bright red evaporation ponds of salt recovery plants along their shores, are among nature's most remarkable biological phenomena, and occur in arid regions throughout the world. The red colouration is caused by astronomical numbers of microscopic, unicellular organisms living in the water and salt crust. But just because it's all scientific and stuff, doesn't make it any less freaky!
Oodles of salt is "farmed" near the town of Masazir, a satellite suburb of Baku in Azerbaijan. The lake seems systematically divided into tiny "plots" where locals collect the salt from the lake. The collected salt is then sent off to be refined, where it could very well end up on your local restaurant table. Yummy!!
The red colour of the lake would better be really seen on the hottest of summer days, otherwise the little organisms which cause the display are sleeping (or something like that). They say that it can get even redder than the colour on the photos.
Getting to the lake can be a bit of a struggle. Even though it's only 20 minutes outside Baku. Bus #225 from Memar Ajemi metro station goes to the village of Masazir. From there it's a 2km+ unshaded walk to the lake. Although the far side of the lake, another 5km along, is better.