Lake Manyara National Park
From whichever way you approach this hauntingly beautiful soda lake, your first view of Lake Manyara is spectacular. From Arusha & Tarangire side, the sheer red cliffs of the Rift Valley wall rise several hundred metres to form an impressive backdrop. But from the west on the top of the escarpment, the park lies far below – a long green strip of water glistening in the sunlight.
The Lake Manyara National Park covers an area of 330 sq km of which two-thirds is the lake itself. The lake starred in the film Out of Africa. (Remember the famous scene when the two lovers fly over the escarpment in a small plane?) The rest is a mix of vegetation, open savanna, shady forest glades and fresh water streams.
Bird-watching at Lake Manyara
However for the keen birder, Lake Manyara is one of the most rewarding bird-watching experiences in Tanzania with 380 species recorded. Sometimes pink-tinged with the wings of flamingos, Lake Manyara is home to pelicans and many other aquatic bird species. Here you’ll see herons, egrets, spoonbills and other waders. Plus the evergreen forests close to the escarpment give rewarding sightings of silver-cheeked hornbills, crowned eagles and even the comical guinea owl.
Wildlife in Lake Manyara
It is is well-known for its unique ground-water forest and famous tree-climbing lions. (Though these are seldom seen). However this compact, attractive park has plenty of other wildlife including elephant, buffalo, impala, zebra, hippo and giraffes aplenty. Other notable sighting are baboons in huge numbers. Enjoy watching troops of up to 200 individuals all playing and interacting with each other.
How to visit Lake Manyara?
Lake Manyara Park is only about 1½ hours drive from Arusha. So it is often visited en route between Arusha or the Tarangire Park and the Ngorongoro crater. You can also use the Ngorongoro area as a base for a few nights and visit from there (only 1 hour away).
In the summer months, it is rewarding from a birding point of view. But, given its accessibility, it does get busy with day visitors during the peak season (dry winter months).
Treetop Canopy Walk
A new activity is a guided walkway through the forest canopy where you can have a bird-eye view of the forest fauna and birdlife. See more below…
Lake Manyara Lodges
If your time permits, we recommend staying a night or two in the park at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. So you can venture further south into the park, and enjoy it after the day visitors have left. Or opt for Lake Manyara Serena which is also close by. (We use this in our Tanzania Discovery safari). A little further away the Ngorongoro conservancy lodges around Karatu. These are often on working farms and coffee estates. Think Gibb’s Farm, Ngorongoro Farmhouse, Plantation Lodge or the Manor at Ngorongoro. We often use these as a base for visiting both Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater.