Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park is a small park that stretches 50 km along the escarpment wall of the Great Rift Valley in Northern Tanzania. The park derives its name from the eponymous alkaline soda lake and offers a stunning scenery with diverse landscapes. Lake Manyara is perfect as a gentle introduction into a Tanzania safari.

The park is conveniently located between Arusha and the Ngorongoro Crater. Located along the main safari route, it is visited by many. Lake Manyara is famous for its legendary tree-climbing lions, which are, however, notoriously difficult to come across. The lions’ peculiar habit is said to be either the result of biting tsetse flies or their attempt to get a better view of potential prey in the dense thicket.

Lake Manyara National Park is located close to the village of Mto wa Mbu – a melting pot of cultures that live harmoniously together. Various cultural programs as well as outdoor activities including biking, canoeing and walking are offered and can easily be combined with a safari. A combination of these activities lets you experience Tanzania up-close and first-hand!

Main Facts

established in 1960 with a size of 330 km²

Best Time

all year around – dry season: for mammals; wet season: for birds

Common Animals

Antelopes: impala, wildebeest
Big Five: buffalo, elephant, lions
Birds: more than 400 species incl. flamingos and pelicans
Cats: aren’t easily seen
Mammals: giraffe, hippo, warthog, zebra
Primates: baboon, blue monkey, mitis, vervet

Activities

game drives (also night game drives)
mountain biking
village tours
walking safaris

Expectations

easily accessible from Arusha Town
paradise for ornithologists with more than 400 species
beautiful scenery along the Rift Valley Escarpment Wall
large elephant population – especially during the wet season
ideal conditions for a gentle safari introduction
cultural encounters in the nearby village of Mto wa Mbu

Further Details – Lake Manyara National Park

Vegetation

Lake Manyara National Park is a small but remarkable national park with a very scenic environment. The National Park is wedged between the dramatic Rift Valley escarpment to the west and the alkaline Manyara lake to the east. The lake covers most of the park during the wet season but then shrinks significantly. The park combines several ecosystems including a groundwater forest, grassy floodplains, acacia woodland, hot springs and, of course, the escarpment and lake itself.

Wildlife

Upon entering the road winds through a large ground water forest, fed by fresh water springs, that harbors ancient mahogany and tamarind trees. Always green and resounding with the chirping of crickets, this forest is reminiscent of a jungle. Large troops of olive baboons, blue and velvet monkeys as well as grazing bushbucks and the silvery-cheeked horn-bills call this part their home.

The road continues into a grassy floodplain that is bordered by Lake Manyara in the east. Large herds of buffalos, impalas, wildebeests and zebras graze here – always vigilant for potential predators. Manyara is also home to a few hippo families that doze in the lake by day and come out at night in search of fresh grasses.

A sweeping look across the grassy floodplain reveals giraffes that graze where the acacia woodland begins. When entering the woodland, visitors must watch out for Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions, which are present but not easily spotted. It is also possible to come across large elephant herds that increase especially from December to May when they migrate from Tarangire nearby.

Manyara – a birders’ paradise…

With its over 400 recorded bird species, Manyara is often referred to as a birder’s paradise. The lake itself plays an important role in this ecosystem as it feeds a majority of the waterfowl including cormorants, herons, ibis, pink-backed pelicans, storks. When the water level is right, the lake also becomes home to thousands of flamingos.

Limited roads, however, make it quite challenging to see the big flocks. It is also possible to came across birds-of-prey including several eagle species, falcons, hawks and vultures. Birding is good throughout the year; however, the best time is from November to April when you can spot the migratory birds from Europe and Northern Africa.

Which travelers will particularly enjoy Lake Manyara National Park?

  • travelers who are interested in a photo safari with a varied landscape and scenery
  • travelers who are looking for a daytrip destination or only have a few days for a short safari
  • families with smaller children as Manyara offers ideal conditions for a gentle safari introduction