Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park is located in northern part of Tanzania 126 kilometers west of Arusha Town. The park is sized 330 square kilometers of which 220 square kilometers form the lake when the water levels are high in the rainy season. Lake Manyara National Park is a small park at the base of the Rift Valley escarpment. Its groundwater forest offers a nice change of scenery from the more savannah-dominated parks. Although the park is known for tree-climbing lions, big cats aren’t that easily seen. Elephant are prolific and are the main attraction. The forest patch is home to habituated troops of olive baboons olive and blue monkey. Buffalo, giraffe and several antelope species are easily encountered on a drive. The shallow lake Manyara is an alkaline lake found in this park that swells up and reduces in size basing on the seasons found within a long silvery bowl of salt deposits. The lake hosts a large number of pink flamingos in addition to other wildlife like hippos that dwell in the swallow part of the lake. The forest patch at the entrance of the park is home to habituated troops of olive baboon and blue monkey. The occasional bushbuck can also be spotted here, darting off in the undergrowth.
Attractions in Lake Manyara national park
Lake Manyara national park is located between Tarangire national park and Ngorongoro conservation area making it a strategic location for seeing its different attractions and engaging in the various activities at the destination during a safari. Attraction in Lake Manyara national park include:
The shallow lake Manyara is an alkaline lake found in this park that swells up and reduces in size basing on the seasons found within a long silvery bowl of salt deposits. It covers an area of 220 sq km which is two thirds of the park’s total surface area. The lake hosts a large number of pink flamingos in addition to other wildlife like hippos that dwell in the shallow part of the river.
These wildlife species can be seen in their natural habitat in the national park which consists of a forest made of mahogany trees and is a good location to spot giraffes, monkeys as well as buffalos. In the open savannah plains of the national park, wildlife species such as zebras, dik dik, klipspringers, lions, impalas, giraffes, cheetahs, hippos, gazelles, warthogs as well as baboons can be seen. The game in Lake Manyara includes plenty of elephants, wildebeests along with so many giraffes, and buffaloes. In addition, the park is also very famous for its large number of zebras, impalas, warthogs and waterbucks. On the slopes of the escarpment, you may need to search a little hard for the tinny and renowned shy kirk’s dik dik and klipspringer.
The large number of birds found in Lake Manyara National Parks differs basing on one habitat to another. Often; you will be able to see huge flocks of pelicans and pink flamingoes on the lake, while close to the park borders and floodplains you will enjoys views of many egrets, stilts, herons, spoonbills, stalks and other waders. But the more interesting species will be viewed in the evergreen forests; for example, crowned eagles, crested guinea fowl and the silvery cheeked hornbills but birds are especially seen along the shores of Lake Manyara and they include storks, pelicans, hornbills, secretary birds, eagles, ostriches, hawks, babblers, flamingos among others.
The Vegetation in Lake Manyara national park
Set under the magnificent of the Great Rift Valley’s steep western escarpment is a long narrow park that conserves the area between the escarpment and Lake Manyara safe. Within the vicinity of the lake are wide grassy flood plains and further as you move away, are bands of mixed acacia woodlands. Leaving that aside, patches of captivating evergreen forests, that are kept going by perennial ground water springs from the base of the escarpment are next to the escarpment.
The Large Numbers of Elephants
This national park is home to a very large number of elephants which can easily be seen within the evergreen forests as well as the acacia woodlands moving around gracefully in their herds especially in areas around Lake Manyara national park which have thick vegetation.
The Tree-Top Canopy Walk
Besides the traditional way of viewing wildlife in Lake Manyara National Park, the tree-top canopy walk offers you an opportunity to see other wildlife in yet a unique way. Walking at tree-top height you will be able to see some primates and various birds within the forest.
Tree Climbing Lions
Another rare wildlife sighting in this national park is the tree climbing lions which can be seen clinging to the tree branches. The tree climbing lions can be seen in few other locations in the world such as in Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park located in south western Uganda. Many tourists are often curious about the reason as to why these lions climb trees and it is said that the lions climb trees in order to avoid insects such as tsetse flies and to also enjoy the shade and breeze in the trees.
Activities in Lake Manyara national park
These are a cultural interactions which takes place in Mto wa Mbu town located along the way to lake Manyara national park. During these interactions, tourists engage in a variety of activities such as visiting the traditional homesteads of the Maasai known as “manyattas”, traditional dance performances of the Maasai, making beaded jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets and anklets, listening to folk songs and stories, visiting the kraals and getting to know more about the nomadic way of life of the Maasai people.
These are the common wildlife viewing experience in this national park and they take place at different times of day which include morning game drives, afternoon and evening game drives as well as full day game drives. During morning game drives, tourists can see a variety of wildlife species since the animals are very active and can easily be seen roaming around the national park compared to afternoon or evening game drives. Full day game drives involve a whole day of wildlife viewing and start in the morning which means the chances of the tourists seeing the attractions like wildlife species such as elephants, tree climbing lions, gazelles, impalas, zebras, antelopes, buffalos, giraffes, warthogs, hippos among others is high. The road circuit for game drives is limited and can be covered in about 3 to 4 hours where you can see the animals that are always on the move.
This is another unique way of experiencing the attractions around Lake Manyara national park. These nature walks take place in the company of a guide who takes tourists around the national park and to experience the nature and wilderness around them and these nature walks also include moving along the treetop walkway where monkeys and birds can be seen along the trees.
When the water levels are favorable on Lake Manyara, tourists can engage in a boat or canoe ride along the lake as they enjoy the scenery around them and see wildlife species grazing in the distance like the Hippos.
Best time to visit
Although Lake Manyara National Park offers reasonable wildlife viewing throughout the year, the Dry season, from June to October, is the best time. Wildlife is easier to spot because vegetation is thinner and animals gather around predictable water sources. The Wet season, from November to May, offers the most beautiful scenery, but roads can sometimes become slippery and difficult to negotiate.
How to get to Lake Manyara national park
- By road:Tourists can be driven from Arusha to Lake Manyara park via Mto wa mbu town which neighbors the destination and public means of transport are also available from Arusha frequently to Mto wa mbu. The roads to destinations such as Lake Manyara national park are developed as well as other tourism infrastructure to promote tourism and to ensure that tourists get a good and relaxing safari experience.
- By air:Different airlines operate flights to Lake Manyara national park such as Coastal Aviation, Air excel and Regional air and these airlines offer flights daily between Arusha and lake Manyara national park.
Where to stay in Lake Manyara national park
This park has got all kinds of accommodation where you are able to enjoy your stay while on your safari.
- Andbeyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge
- Manyara Ranch Conservancy
- Lake Burunge Tented Camp
- Manyara Wildlife Safari Camp
- Lake Manyara Kilimamoja lodge
- Kirurumu tented lodge
- Lake Manyara wildlife lodge
- Lake Manyara Tortilis camp
- Haven nature camp
- Jambo rooms
- Nsya lodge