Lake Manyara National Park Travel Guide

Lake Manyara national park travel guide: Lake Manyara National Park is one of the best protected areas located on the road to Ngorongoro conservation area and Serengeti national park at the base of the Great Rift Valley. The park was first established as a game reserve in 1957 and later became a national park in 1960. Lake Manyara national park covers a total area of 330 square kilometers with two thirds which is 230 square kilometers of the total area covered by the lake. Lake Manyara national park harbors abundant wildlife species including the famous tree climbing lions which will be seen lying up in acacia tree branches, other animals like elephants, giraffes, wildebeests, buffaloes, zebras, leopards, cheetahs, hippos, spotted hyenas, primates like baboons, bird species like flamingos, pink backed pelicans among others. Lake Manyara national park derives its name from tree species called Euphorbia Tirucalli which is known as Emanyara in the Maasai language. The trees were used by the Maasai people to protect their livestock from predators and poachers. Lake Manyara national park travel guide will give you information which will help you to plan a Tanzania safari in the park. Our travel guide includes information about the attractions in the park, activities to engage in, best time to visit, where to stay during your safari and how to get to Lake Manyara national park.

Lake Manyara National Park Travel Guide

Attractions in Lake Manyara national park

Animals, Lake Manyara national park is the only destination in Tanzania that harbors the tree climbing lions, other animals like elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, impalas, bohor reedbucks, leopards, zebras, wildebeest, hippos, klipspringer, Thomsons gazelles, warthogs, bushbucks, waterbucks, African civet, cheetahs, African golden cats, primates like blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons among others.

Bird species, the national park is a home of more than 400 bird species including migratory birds, water birds, endemic birds which are only found in Tanzania and near endemic birds which are also found in the neighboring countries. Bird species include palm-nut vulture, pink backed pelicans, yellow billed stork, flamingoes, crowned eagles, ground dwelling crested Guineafowl, silvery cheeked hornbills, crowned hornbill, emerald cuckoo among others.

Lake Manyara, Lake Manyara is a shallow alkaline soda lake that covers two thirds of the total area of the park. The lake was formed as a result of the Great Rift Valley and it’s a great spot for Tanzania birding safaris where you will be able to view different bird species like flamingos and animals like hippos and crocodiles.

Activities in Lake Manyara national park

Game drive

This is one of the major activities carried out in Lake Manyara national park. Game drives in the park are carried out in a 4WD safari vehicle and they can either be done early in the morning so as to view animals when they are most active, afternoon or at night to view nocturnal animals. During the game drive you will follow different game tracks which offer great views of animals like the tree climbing lions, large herds of elephants, buffaloes, wildebeests, giraffes, zebras, impalas, waterbucks, bushbucks, predators like leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, view different bird species among others. 

Nature walks

Nature walks in Lake Manyara national park give you an opportunity to explore the park on foot, they can either be done in the morning or evening with the company of an experienced park guide and armed rangers to protect you from any danger. During the nature walk you will follow different trails like Lyambi river trail, lake shore trail and Msara trail which give you a chance to get up-close and personal with wildlife species like elephants, buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, primates like monkeys, baboons and different plant and tree species, bird species, colorful butterflies among others. You will also be able to enjoy the cool breeze, relax your mind and breathe fresh air.  

Bird watching

Lake Manyara national park is a home of more than 400 recorded bird species which makes it one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania. Bird watching can be done early in the morning or late afternoon with a knowledgeable guide who will help you to spot different bird species including silvery cheeked hornbill, black heron, little bee-eater, martial eagle, glossy ibis, yellow billed stork, lesser and greater flamingos, little stint, African fish eagle, crowned eagle, pink backed pelican, saddle billed stork, pied kingfisher, grey crowned crane, baglafetcht weaver, African spoonbill, sacred ibis, spur winged goose, African hawk eagle among others.


This is an interesting activity that is done in a two man canoe with an experienced guide on the salty waters of Lake Manyara. During the canoe ride which takes about 2 to 3 hours you will paddle silently along the shores of the lake as you watch hippos in water, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, antelopes along the shores, enjoy the beautiful scenery, view water birds like flamingos, cormorants, hornbills, pelicans, kingfishers, fish eagles among others.

Cultural tours

This is an exciting activity where you will get a chance to visit and interact with the local people in the villages around the park. During the cultural tour you will be able to learn about the local people’s culture, history, way of living, visit their traditional homesteads, farmlands, learn how to make crafts, taste their traditional dishes, listen to ancient stories, enjoy their traditional performances, buy souvenirs among others.   

Best time to visit Lake Manyara national park

Lake Manyara national park can be visited all year round though the best period is during the dry season also known as the peak season in the months of June to October and December to February. During the dry season the park receives little or no rainfall therefore access roads will be passable, hiking and nature walking trails will be passable, most animals will gather around the water sources to drink water which gives you great views and vegetation will be thin which helps you to have clear views of animas in the park.

Lake Manyara national park can also be visited in the wet season also known as the low season in the months of March to April and December. Though the wet season is comprised of heavy rainfall it also has advantages for example it’s the best time for birding safaris where bird lovers will be able to view migratory birds from Europe and visitors will be able to enjoy the park with fewer crowds.  

Where to stay during your safari in Lake Manyara national park

There are a number of accommodation facilities in Lake Manyara national park where you can stay during your safari. The accommodations range from luxury, midrange, budget and they include Lake Manyara Serena safari lodge, Escarpment luxury lodge Manyara, Lake Manyara Kilimamoja lodge, And beyond Lake Manyara tree lodge, Manyara Green camp, Lake Manyara wildlife lodge, Burudika Manyara lodge, Migunga tented lodge, Manyara wildlife safari camp, Manyara wildlife safari camp, Kirurumu Manyara lodge, Twiga camp among others.   

How to get to Lake Manyara national park 

Lake Manyara national park is located in the northern safari circuit and can be accessed by road transport means where you will drive from Arusha to the park’s headquarters which takes about 2 to 3 hours drive. You can also access the park from Serengeti national park or the Ngorongoro conservation area.

The national park can also be accessed by air transport means in that you can book scheduled or charter flights from Arusha airport or Dar es Salaam to Lake Manyara airstrip.

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