Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience.
Lake Manyara National Park lies 130 kilometers outside of Arusha town and encompasses Lake Manyara and its surroundings. There are five different vegetation zones including groundwater forest, acacia woodland, open areas of short grass, swamps and the lake’s alkaline flats. The park’s wildlife includes more than 350 species of birds, baboon, warthog, giraffe, hippopotamus, elephant and buffalo. If lucky, catch a glimpse of Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions. Night game drives are permitted in Lake Manyara. Located beneath the cliffs of the Manyara Escarpment, on the edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park offers varied ecosystems, incredible bird life, and breathtaking views.
Known for its elephants and tree-climbing lions, Lake Manyara is also excellent for flamingos and other fascinating birds in and around the soda lake. A Lake Manyara safari is a unique and fascinating experience as the Park offers vast ecological variety in a small area, featuring a ground-water forest, acacia tortilis woodland and hot springs called Maji Moto. Karatu is a picturesque farming town that lies just outside Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Many upscale hotels have opened in Karatu over the last few years, making it an easy launching point for safaris to Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater.
The alkaline soda of Lake Manyara is home to an incredible array of bird life that thrives on its brackish waters. Pink flamingo stoop and graze by the thousands colourful specks against the grey minerals of the lake shore. Yellow-billed storks swoop and corkscrew on thermal winds rising up from the escarpment, and herons flap their wings against the sun-drenched sky. Even reluctant bird-watchers will find something to watch and marvel at within the national park.
Lake Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions are another reason to pay a visit to this park. The only kind of their species in the world, they make the ancient mahogany and elegant acacias their home during the rainy season, and are a well-known but rather rare feature of the northern park. In addition to the lions, the national park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons anywhere in the world — a fact that accounts for interesting game viewing of large families of the primates.
A selection of top destinations you need to visit to experience Tanzania