Lake Manyara National Park is not as visited or as appreciated as other similar parks in Tanzania, but its beauty is just the same. Visiting Manyara will give you the chance to come face to face with elephants, baboons, flamingos and even the extraordinary tree-climbing lions, a rare and amazing sight, for sure. There are plenty of beautiful sights to behold and activities to do while you stay here, including safari, canoeing, day trips, hiking and others. In addition, you get an amazing chance at bird watching, with more than 400 bird species existent in the park for visitors to view and admire.
- +Soda-ash lake
- +Tree-climbing lions
- +Gorgeous scenery
About Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park extends over 50 km and offers a multitude of exciting and amazing attractions for any visitor who chooses to come around these parts. The park is not as popular as others, such as Arusha, Serengeti or Ngorongoro, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as beautiful as its more crowded counterparts. In fact, Lake Manyara provides many of the same offerings and a similarly extraordinary atmosphere. Whatever you choose to do at Lake Manyara National Park, you are guaranteed to have an incredible experience.
Wild animals abound here, like in all other Tanzanian national parks, with naughty baboons, lots of elephants and even blue monkeys populating the microcosm. But by far, the most exciting attraction of the park are the tree-climbing lions, a sight that is rarely given to see anywhere else. Any trip to Lake Manyara would be worth it just for this, but fortunately, there are plenty of other things to admire.
Among its other varieties of wild animals, you can count on seeing hippo, impala, buffalo, dik-dik, flamingo, wildebeest, waterbuck, warthog, giraffe, zebra, and others, particularly many species of birds. There are 400+ species here, including storks, pelicans, flamingo, and cormorants.
As far as activities go, there’s always driving safari, both daytime and nighttime, which is a recently added option. In addition to that, you can engage in activities such as hiking, canoeing, as well as day trips into some of the villages nearby.
Moreover, the scenery is breathtaking, and there is a variety of plants to be admired, lush greenery to enjoy and quiet areas in the park where you can just enjoy a bit of peace and nature, undisturbed.
The easiest way to arrive to Lake Manyara National Park is through Kilimanjaro International Airport, at around 46 km away from Arusha. Alternatively, the Julius Nyerere International Airport is also an option, combined with a domestic flight towards Arusha Airport.
Another alternative is to take a flight from Nairobi to Kenya, and afterward get on a shuttle bus to Arusha, which can be taken directly from the airport.
By car, the journey from Arusha to Manyara is only 1.5 hours long, so most people choose this option.
When to Go & Weather
- April – May: low season; it’s the least crowded, but also the worst for visiting
- July – March: high season is most of the year, with the most crowded part of the day being the morning
- June – September: ideal time to go in order to view wild animals
- March – April: this is the peak of the wet season and the least favorable weather; however, it’s good for canoeing, seeing the waterfalls and bird watching
- June – October: this is during the dry season, and it is the best weather for spotting animals, because of the few rains
Lake Manyara National Park benefits from a temperate and mild climate. Temperatures generally remain consistent over the entire year, regardless of season. Extremes are rare, with days not getting overwhelmingly hot. However, early morning and nighttime gets cold, so warm clothes are a must. Dry season enjoys average temperatures of around 22°C, with maximums of 26°C, while wet season (with “short” and “long” rains), features similar temperatures, with a maximum of about 29°C.
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In the past, the surroundings that encircle Lake Manyara National Park were popular because of the hunting possibilities. As a matter of fact, it was a favorite destination for game hunting enthusiasts. Additionally, a lot of community members would hunt animals for food, or to protect themselves from possible attacks.
However, afterward, the hunting ceased, as the incredible biodiversity and ecosystem was uncovered. In this direction, in the year of 1960, given the immense potential of the area, Lake Manyara has been converted into a National Park holding a total surface of 330 square kilometers.
The National Park was originally settled to protect the mythological elephant herds that dwelt in the proximity of the lake.
In sheer contrast with the secluded, pristine forest that seems untouched and undiscovered, stands the abundant, most luxurious vegetation that covers the hills surrounding the crystal-clear lake. There is a wide variety of trees that is sheltered on the premises of the National Park, including sausage trees, umbrella trees, doum palms, and yellow fever trees. Given the fact that Manyara is a soda lake, as the dry season settles in, the level of the water diminishes quite a lot. Nonetheless, thanks to a myriad of fresh springs, the National Park benefits from permanent fresh water throughout the year, including the dry season. These springs support the ever-greenness of the beautiful forests that encircle the region.
The majestic forests are the unusual habitat of lions. You may get lucky and spot one lounging in a tree or hunting near the giant lake. As a matter of fact, lions seem to prefer resting on umbrella trees, probably their favorite resting place in the forest.
Lake Manyara National Park embodies a significant amount of elephants, buffalos, as well as giraffes. As a matter of fact, the park is quite famous for its elephants, which, hopefully, you will be able to spot. Still, you have to pay increased attention, as they walk among the lush trees and are quite difficult to be observed.
Additionally, other animals that are specific to the region are zebras, impalas, waterbucks, and warthogs. You certainly won’t miss the large communities of baboons, which are not so difficult to spot, as it is believed that Lake Manyara National Park holds an impressive baboon population. The unique blue monkey can be spotted hiding in the high trees of the forests as well.
Concerning birdlife diversity, Lake Manyara National Park is also quite popular. Large numbers of colorful flamingos and other birds live in the soda lake. As the lake is quite big, it hosts no less than 400 species of birds, from which a range are migrant species. The lake is the home to numerous species of ducks, storks, geese, pelicans, fish eagles, cormorants, hammerkops, avocets and others. Quite a colorful painting. Even those who are not bird watching enthusiasts will find the view spectacular.
As in the past, this region was particularly popular for game hunters, in the 1960’s, it has been established as a protected National Park that aims to preserve the natural habitat of a myriad of wildlife species. Regardless of its small size, Lake Manyara National Park is conserved to protect the animals that find their home in its proximity.
- The name of the lake comes from Masai – which is a word that stands for Euphorbia tirucallane, a plant the community members would use to create a stockade for their cattle.
- As you enter the Park, you will encounter a sign saying that you are restricted to take anything from the premises of the park, except for nourishment for the soul, inspiration for the mind and consolation for the heart. The natural surroundings and stunning scenery not only that it will enrich your culture and knowledge concerning wildlife and African ecosystems, but it will also make you find peace and reunite yourself with nature, finding inspiration in the African wilderness of Lake Manyara National Park.
- The park was explored by Ernest Hemingway, who was genuinely astonished at the marvelous scenery and views he relished, and the myriad of wildlife and flora, which were unparalleled to anything he has experienced before.
- The documentary maker Colin Willock affirmed that the luxurious, abundant vegetation and fauna make it the most attractive destination in the East African Rift.
- In the proximity of the park, you will find the village Mto Wa Mbu. Its meaning is “mosquito creek”. It attracts numerous tourists who plan on visiting Lake Manyara National Park. Visiting the village will grant you a chance to soak in the local culture while browsing for some souvenirs for the family. Before purchasing something, you should know not to accept the first price that the seller tells you. Still, you shouldn’t bargain in excess.