Lake Manyara National Park is conveniently located on the road from Arusha to Ngorongoro, but offers more than enough wildlife and scenery to make it a safari attraction in its own right. Ernest Hemmingway once called Lake Manyara the “loveliest lake in Africa” and even though much of the park’s 330 km² are taken up by the alkaline lake, Manyara still offers a diversity of landscapes and animals. Especially birders will love this park, in which 400 bird species have been counted. The main road of the park takes visitors through thick groundwater forest and into grassy floodplains. The acacia woodlands are a favourite hangout of the tree-climbing lions and the fringes of Lake Manyara are covered in a pink mass of flamingos.
Lake Manyara National Park’s location hugging the shores of the alkaline lake makes for great concentrations of wildlife. The park is home to large troops of baboon, herds of wildebeest, buffalo and zebra. Large mammals like elephant, hippopotamus and giraffe can also be seen in Manyara, while smaller animals include the banded mongoose, blue monkeys and the shy bushbuck.
The predators of Manyara are mostly seen lazing in the tree tops. The lions of this area are famous for their skill at climbing trees – a highly unusual behaviour in this species. The stealthy leopard is abundant in Manyara but not easy to spot.
While Manyara National Park is a great introduction to Tanzania’s wildlife, it is a must for birders. More than 400 species have been counted in the park and even novice birders are likely to see up to a 100 species on an average day. The highlight of Manyara’s birdlife are the thousands of flamingos that add big splashes of pink to the landscape in the rainy season.
Game drives in Lake Manyara National Park offer good game viewing especially during the dry season from July to October. The rainy season from November to June is better for birding and when the water levels rise high enough visitors can view the wildlife on canoe tours. Mountain bike tours, abseiling and hiking are offered on the escarpment outside the park.