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 – just along the main safari route and therefore 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 also borders 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, vervet


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


> 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


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.


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

Activities & Excursions in and near Lake Manyara National Park

Night Game Drive – Manyara

Lake Manyara National Park is the ideal location for a night game drive. This experience is completely different to any day safari as you encounter a new world of nocturnal wildlife. Less seen animals like civet cats, genets and porcupines are generally active at night. You might be also able to spot hippos, leopards and lions. Prepare yourself for an outstanding safari adventure!

Bike Ride – Mto wa Mbu

For more active travelers, we recommend getting out of the vehicle and hopping on a bike. There are various biking paths in the Manyara region with different degrees of difficulty and length. All biking routes are designed to let you experience Tanzania’s cultural diversity and maybe even catch a glimpse of wildlife from a different perspective.

Tuk Tuk Ride – Mto wa Mbu

Explore the village of Mto wa Mbu in a Tuk Tuk – a motorized 3-wheeled rickshaw. Being small in size it is the ideal vehicle to move between the farms and the local houses. A Tuk Tuk can carry up to three passengers on a bench seat behind the driver. As the sides of the vehicle are open, you can enjoy fantastic views and get a vibe of the village live.

Our most popular safari adventures including Lake Manyara National Park

4-Day Explorer Safari

Tour Duration: 4 days, 3 nights
National Parks: Tarangire, Manyara & Ngorongoro Crater

6-Day Classic Safari

Tour Duration: 6 days, 5 nights
National Parks: Tarangire, Manyara, Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater

9-Day Family Safari

Tour Duration: 9 days, 8 nights
National Parks: Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater & Serengeti