About Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park is very easy to access: it’s about 90 minutes’ drive from Arusha and barely an hour from the Ngorongoro Crater. Because of this, some of the northern side of the park can get very busy, especially in the afternoons. To see the park at its best, we recommend that you either stay within the park or spend two nights somewhere close, entering the park early for a full-day safari.
Lake Manyara provides a perfect environment for Wildlife and Bird watching.
Lake Manyara National Park is the smallest park in Tanzania extending over an area of 330sq km, located north of the Great Rift Valley western escarpment. The park is divided into three parts: the soda lake covering 220sq km, ground water forest and acacia woodland. Although small in size, the diverse habitats in the park provide the perfect environment for wildlife and birdlife, comprising up to 400 species. Famous for its “tree-climbing” lions which can sometimes be spotted in the boughs of acacia trees, it is also home to possibly the highest baboon density of any park in Africa.
Flora and Fauna of Lake Manyara cover about 330km², of which typically two-thirds is underwater, Lake Manyara National Park is a small park by African standards. However, it’s also very beautiful and contains tremendous diversity of habitats, animals and especially birds.
You are likely to see buffalo feeding on sedge by the lakeshore, hippos in water pools in the northern fan delta, klipspringers on the escarpment wall, impala and plains game (zebra, giraffe, mongoose and warthog) scattered throughout. The Great Rift Valley escarpment looms on the horizon, forming an impressive backdrop to the lake. It is favoured by water birds, including storks, pelicans, herons, Egyptian geese and vast flocks of flamingos. The park is perfect for bird watchers and an ideal start to your safari.
Located 125 km west of Arusha town, under the wall of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the oldest and most popular sanctuaries in East Africa. The park has a large variety of habitats, making it possible to support a wealth of wildlife in its small area. The main habitats include the shallow soda lake itself which occupies 70% of the National Park total area of 330 sq. km, the ground water forest, open grassland, acacia woodland and the rift wall.
The most famous spectacle in the park is the tree-climbing lions, which are occasionally seen along branches of acacia trees. Other animals found in the park include buffalo, elephants, leopards, baboons, impala, giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich and hippos. Popularly referred to as an ornithologist’s paradise, Lake Manyara National Park contains over 400 bird species found in most savanna and river habitats in East Africa. Common water birds to be seen here are pelicans, spoonbills, Egyptian geese, hammerkops and the migratory flamingoes, which arrive in hundreds of thousands creating one of Africa’s great natural sights over the soda lake.
Lake Manyara’s game includes good numbers of elephant, buffalo and wildebeest along with plenty of giraffe. Also prolific in number are zebra, waterbuck, warthog and impala. You may need to search a little harder for the small and relatively shy Kirk’s dik-dik, and klipspringer on the slopes of the escarpment. The broken forests and escarpment make it good country for leopard, whilst Manyara’s healthy lion population are famous for their tree-climbing antics. (Whilst unusual, this isn’t as unique to the park as is often claimed.) Immediately obvious to most visitors are the huge troops of baboons which often number several hundred and are widely regarded as Africa’s largest.
As with the habitats, the birdlife here is exceptionally varied. In the middle of the lake you’ll often see flocks of pelicans and the pink-shading of distant flamingos, whilst the margins and floodplains feed innumerable herons, egrets, stilts, stalks, spoonbills and other waders. With so much water around, the woodlands are equally productive, but it’s the evergreen forests where you’ll spot some more entertaining species such as the noisy silvery-cheeked hornbills, crowned eagles and crested guinea fowl.
Set beneath the spectacular backdrop of the Great Rift Valley’s steep western escarpment, this long, narrow park protects an area between the escarpment and Lake Manyara. The parks namesake is a shallow, alkaline lake which expands and contracts with the seasons within a long, silvery bowl of salt deposits. Adjacent to it are wide, grassy floodplains and, further away, bands of mixed acacia woodlands. Further still, next to the escarpment, are patches of enchanting evergreen forests, which are sustained by perennial groundwater springs issuing from the base of the escarpment.
Safaris to Lake Manyara National Park
Many people often visit Lake Manyara National Park enroute to or from the Crater, as part of a short half day safari. Often they won’t even spend the night in the area, but rush on, so as to include as many areas, in as short a space of time as possible. Though this can save on money, we feel that it restricts time and therefore only allows for visits to the busy northern quarter of the park. This can result in a rushed experience of Lake Manyara that can sometimes result in disappointment. Instead we would recommend the following two options for visiting Lake Manyara National Park. The first is to stay within the park itself, either in a permanent camp or a more mobile one. This tends to be the more expensive choice, but it is certainly the best way to explore the park. It enables you to be on safari before most others, and explore deeper into the park which day visitors won’t have the time to do. Without any doubt, staying inside the park is the best wildlife experience. Secondly you can opt to stay somewhere outside, but near to the park gate. From here you can enter the park early and enjoy the whole day exploring. There are some economical accommodation options outside the park, some of which are dotted along the top of the Rift Valley Escarpment with great views down across the park
There are two main entrances to Lake Manyara National Park, a gate in the north and in the south. Almost everybody uses the northern gate, since the majority of accommodation options are situated here and as a result the northern part of the park is by far the busier one. The gate in the far south is not commonly used and also has restricted access. Only few camps and lodges can use this entrance. Please contact us for more information on camps that can enter via this quiet gate.
Experience nature like never before
Manyara Treetop Walkway takes you on a sky-high adventure through the beautiful forest of Lake Manyara. Walk among the treetops, the experience untouched nature and wildlife from a unique perspective.
This 400m canopy walk starts with a short board-walk that gradually rises from ground level up through the canopy of the forest. You walk over a series of suspension bridges with thick netting on the sides, and reach a height of 18m off the ground.
Birds-eye view of the forest
This is Tanzania’s first Treetop Walkway and one of the longest in Africa. It offers a unique birds-eye view of the world around you. Enjoy life in the canopy amongst butterflies, monkeys and birds.