Stretching 50 kilometers along the base of the 600 meter high Rift Valley, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem park.
Great for a compact game-viewing experience, Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. From the entrance gate, the road winds through Manyara National Park a lush jungle-like groundwater forest. Baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside. Blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees. Dainty bush-buck tread through the shadows. Horn-bills honk cacophonous in the high canopy.
Just beside the forest are grassy floodplains and expansive views eastward. Across the alkaline lake, jagged blue volcanic peaks rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes.
Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favored haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions. Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, while the dik-dik’s forage in their shade.
Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above. A field of searing hot springs stream and bubble adjacent to the lake-shore in the far south of the park.
Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s bird-life. More than 400 species have been recorded. Nature lovers can expect to observe 100 different bird species in one day. Thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks delight the reserve.
Size: 330 sq km (127 sq miles), of which up to 200 sq km (77 sq miles) is lake when water levels are high.
Location: In northern Tanzania. The entrance gate lies 1.5 hours (126km/80 miles) west of Arusha along a newly surfaced road, close to the ethnically diverse market town of Mto wa Mbu.
By road, charter bus or scheduled flight from Arusha, en route to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
-Mountain bike tours
-Safari walking tours
Dry season (July-October) for large mammals; Wet season (November-June) for birding watching.