Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara national park is the smallest national park situated at the base of the Great Rift Valley in the northern part of Tanzania along the road to Serengeti national park and Ngorongoro conservation area. The national park covers a total area of 330 square kilometers which is comprised of vegetation types including savannah, marshlands, woodland, rainforests which act as habitants to wildlife species including the famous tree-climbing lions, elephants, buffaloes, zebras, wildebeest, hippos, giraffes, bushbucks, klipspringer, leopards, spotted hyenas primates like olive baboons, blue monkeys, bird species like flamingos, pink backed pelicans among others. Lake Manyara national park derives its name from a plant called euphorbia Tirucalli which is locally known as Emanyara in the Maasai language. The areas in the past were used for sport hunting and these trees in the past were used by Maasai people to protect their livestock from thieves and predators. The area was first gazetted as a game reserve in 1957 and in 1960 it was named a national park.
Attractions in Lake Manyara national park
Wildlife, Lake Manyara national park harbors different animals including the tree-climbing lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, bushbucks, impala, gazelle, hippos, predators likes spotted hyenas, leopards, cheetahs which are rarely seen, banded mongoose, dik dik, bohor reedbuck, primates like blue monkeys, olive baboons among others.
Birds, the national park harbors over 400 bird species including forest birds, migratory birds and aquatic bird species which make Lake Manyara national park one of the birding haven. The different bird species include crowned hornbill, emerald cuckoo, crowned eagle, silvery cheeked hornbill, pink backed pelican, black heron, African fish eagle, great white pelican, greater flamingo, pied kingfisher, sacred ibis, little stint, spur winged goose, yellow billed stork, southern ground hornbill among others.
Lake Manyara, Lake Manyara is a shallow alkaline lake that covers two-thirds of the park. The lake was formed as a result of the Great Rift Valley many years ago, it has no outlet and therefore subjected to intense evaporation which allows salt and other minerals to accumulate. Lake Manyara is one of the best areas for animal viewing and birding in that it harbors aquatic bird species, animals like hippos which can be viewed in water and attracts other animals like elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, zebras among others which come to drink water especially during the dry season.
Marang forest reserve, this is a 250 square kilometer reserve located on the rift valley escarpment. It’s an ancient migratory corridor of elephants and acts as a habitat for baboons, blue monkeys, animals like bushbucks and birds of prey.
Ground water forest, this is a dense forest in the northern part of the park that gets its water supply from the underground rivers, springs and streams. The groundwater forest harbors various bird species, primates like monkeys and the first treetop canopy walkway
Maji Moto springs, this is a swampy area on the southwestern shores of Lake Manyara national park. It’s an isolated natural spring with clear warm water that boils up to 60 degrees Celsius, surrounded with tall palm trees, fig trees and a perfect place for a picnic lunch.
Top things to do in Lake Manyara national park
Game drive, game drive is one of the popular activities that shouldn’t be missed on your safari in Lake Manyara national park. During the game drive you will explore the park following different game tracks in the acacia woodlands, grassy floodplains, tall forest and Lake Manyara where you will be able to view the tree climbing lions that will be resting up in acacia tree branches staring at the antelopes grazing. You will also be able to spot large herds of elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, wildebeest, olive baboons, different bird species and if you are lucky you will be able to spot leopards, otters among others.
Night game drive, Lake Manyara national park is one of the destinations in Tanzania that offers night game drive an activity that allows you to drive within the park at night with a park guide and spot light touches for clear viewing. Night game drive in the park starts at around 19:30pm heading into the thick ground water forest of Lake Manyara where you will be able to view nocturnal animals such as leopards, spotted hyenas, genets, civet cats, porcupines among others. During the night game drive you will also drive towards the hippo pools where you will view hippos grazing, enjoy the quiet environment and after return back to the lodge.
Guided nature walk, nature walk is an interesting activity that gives you an opportunity to explore the park on foot. Nature walks can be done either in the morning or in the evening accompanied by an armed park guide to protect you from any danger and to show you various trails to follow while trekking such as Msara trail, Lake Shore trail, Iyambi river trail among others. During the guided nature walk you will be able get close and personal with various animals such as zebras, giraffes, warthogs, elephants, buffaloes, impala, wildebeest, baboons, hippos in water, tree climbing lions in acacia tree branches if you are lucky. You will also be able to view Lake Manyara when you follow the lake shore trail, view different plant and tree species, butterflies, bird species, insects, enjoy the cool breeze, listen to sweet sounds of birds singing, take beautiful pictures among others.
Canoeing, this is an exciting and amazing activity in the park that gives you breathtaking views and unforgettable moments. Canoeing is done on Lake Manyara where you will puddle along the shoreline in a canoe with an experienced guide. During canoeing you will have spectacular views of hippos in water, buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, zebras among others along the water shores, aquatic bird species like herons, African fish eagle, flamingos, cormorants, pelicans, kingfishers among others.
Bird watching, Lake Manyara national park is a home of over 400 bird species which makes it one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania. Birding is best done early in the morning or late in the evening with the help of a birding guide who will help you to spot different bird species ranging from forest species, migratory birds and water birds. During the bird watching safari you will be able to view birds such as crowned hornbill, emerald cuckoo, crowned eagle, silvery cheeked hornbill, pink backed pelican, black heron, African fish eagle, great white pelican, greater flamingo, pied kingfisher, sacred ibis, little stint, spur winged goose, yellow billed stork, southern ground hornbill among others.
Mountain biking, Lake Manyara national park is one of the protected areas in Tanzania that offers mountain biking safari an incredible activity that allows you to explore the park on a bike. During the mountain biking activity which takes about 2 to 3 hours, you will be accompanied by a park guide and you will pass through the rift valley floor, lake shores where you will view various bird and animal species, local villages where you will be able to meet and interact with the local people among others.
Best time to visit Lake Manyara national park
The national park can be visited all year round though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to October because during the dry season there is little rainfall and less vegetation in the park and animals gather around the water bodies which gives you an opportunity to have great views of different animals.
Lake Manyara national park can also be visited in the wet season during the months of March to May because the wet season is the best time for bird watching where you will be able to view migratory bird species.
Where to stay on your safari in Lake Manyara national park
There are a wide range of accommodations where you can stay during your safari in Lake Manyara national park ranging from luxury, midrange, budget and campsites. The accommodations include Lake Manyara Serena safari lodge, Escarpment luxury lodge, Lake Manyara Kilimamoja lodge, Lake Manyara Tree lodge, Manyara wildlife safari camp, Kirurumu Manyara lodge, Burudika Manyara lodge, Twiga camp, Mugungu Tented camp, Lake Manyara wildlife safari lodge, Nsya lodge, Flamingo Safari lodge, Africa Safari Lake Manyara among others
How to get to Lake Manyara national park
Lake Manyara national park can be visited by either road or air transport means.
Road transport, when using road you can use a safari vehicle from a tour operator and drive from Arusha to the park headquarters which takes about 126 kilometers drive. You can also use public transport means by boarding a bus from Arusha to the park and then hire a private vehicle to the park headquarters.
Air transport, Lake Manyara national park can also be accessed by air transport means whereby you will book scheduled or chartered flight from Arusha or Serengeti to Manyara airstrip. Flights to the park can be booked by your trusted tour operator.
Lake Manyara national park is a dazzling jewel in Tanzania in that it offers interesting activities like canoeing, night game drive, mountain biking, guided nature walk among others which makes it a must visit destination in Tanzania.