Lake Manyara

Sometimes pink-tinged with the wings of migratory flamingos, Lake Manyara is home to pelicans and many other aquatic bird species.


Lake Manyara Safari Ideas

Whichever direction you approach the hauntingly beautiful Lake, the first view of your Lake Manyara safari is spectacular. From the east, the sheer red cliffs of the  Rift Valley wall rise several hundred metres to form an impressive backdrop to this soda lake. From the west on top of the escarpment, the park lies far below. With a long green strip of water that glistens in the sunlight. The Lake Manyara National Park covers an area of 330 sq km of which two-thirds is the lake itself. Lake Manyara National Park is well-known for its unique ground-water forest and famous tree-climbing lions. Although they are seldom seen. It is a compact, attractive park, with good concentrations of lion and elephant. As well as buffalo, impala, zebra, hippo and giraffes aplenty.

Despite being so close to habitation and farmland, Lake Manyara has remained a unique sanctuary for wild life and birds. Indeed with 380 species recorded, a Lake Manyara safari promises one of the most rewarding birdwatching experiences in Tanzania. Herons, egrets, spoonbills and other waders are found on the water’s edge and in the floodplains. The evergreen forests close to the escarpment offer rewarding sightings of silver-cheeked hornbills, crowned eagles and the comical guinea owl.

The Famous Lake Manyara

Sometimes pink-tinged with the wings of migratory flamingos, Lake Manyara is home to pelicans and many other aquatic bird species. The lake with its Rift Valley panorama is featured in the film Out of Africa. It’s the famous scene when the two lovers fly in a small plane. The rest of the reserve is a fascinating mix of vegetation. Open savanna, lakeshore and forest with shady glades and fresh water streams.

Researcher Iain Douglas-Hamilton brought fame to the Lake Manyara elephant herds with his book ‘Among the Elephants’. Elephant numbers at Lake Manyara are now growing steadily after heavy poaching in the 20th century. And good size herds are regularly seen on a Lake Manyara safari. Another notable sighting are baboons in huge numbers. With troops of up to 200 individuals all playing and interacting with each other. They make a great safari sighting which you can watch for ages.

Best time to visit Lake Manyara?

Lake Manyara Park is only about 1½ hours drive from Arusha and it’s also close to the Ngorongoro Crater. Therefore it’s easy to include a Lake Manyara safari in a Tanzania circuit. Especially in the summer months of December to March. Given its accessibility, it does get busy with day visitors during the dry winter months (which is the peak season), especially in the afternoons.

Lake Manyara Lodges

If your time permits, we recommend staying for one or two nights in the park at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. So you can enjoy the park after the day visitors have left. Lake Manyara Serena, which is operated by the well-regarded Serena hotel group (we use them in our Tanzania Discovery safari), is close by however. A little further away are several smaller Lake Manyara lodges, generally on working farms and estates around Karatu. Such as Gibb’s Farm, Ngorongoro Farmhouse, Plantation Lodge and the Manor at Ngorongoro. These can be used as a base for visiting both Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater.