Lake Manyara National Park Wildlife Safari Tours

The northern circuits birders’ paradise

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park is a birders’ paradise. It is home to over 400 species by the lake area. It is famous for hippos, flamingos and the world famous tree climbing lions. Lake Manyara National Park is a small park but the backdrop is the Ngorongoro Crater, which makes for stunning views of the side of the “mountain”. Most people visit Lake Manyara for one day in combination with a tour of the Ngorongoro Crater.

Planning your African safari holiday is enormous fun. Here we look at safaris in Lake Manyara National Park. Safari tours in Lake Manyara are often added as an afternoon addition to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro itineraries.  While the Ngorongoro Crater is a mind blowing site to be seen, Lake Manyara National Park has tree climbing lions, elephants and an unique birdlife that is not prevalent in other parks. Therefore it is well worth considering an overnight stop in Lake Manyara National Park and a dawn and dusk game drive.

Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park is only 684 square km. Of this, two thirds is made up of water: the famous Lake Manyara. Lake Manyara itself was the original park at 352 sq km. It was enlarged in 2009 – to connect various wildlife buffer zones to each other and to make moving easier for animals. This suddenly made Lake Manyara Safari Tours very exciting, with herds of elephants next to flocks of flamingos. Often underrated, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the most diverse of Tanzania’s national parks. The landscape is also breathtaking: it includes a combination of the Rift Valley Lake, dense woodlands and steep mountainsides.

Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park

The Lake Manyara area (and National Park) was made famous by elephant researcher Dr Iain Douglas Hamilton in his book, ‘Among the Elephants’. Lake Manyara NP was established specifically to protect the elephant herds that have made the area world-renowned. The elephants come to this lake to eat salt – available around the lake and the surrounding soda-rich soil.

Heavy poaching in the 1970’s and 1980’s negatively affected the herds. Happily now, due to better game management, the elephant herds are recovering and returning to their former strengths.

Poaching is still an issue in some of Africa’s National Parks, but many countries are doing what they can to combat this. If this subject interests you, please do email us and we can suggest how you can help.

Besides these gentle giants, Lake Manyara National Park is a birding paradise. There are more than 380 species of bird in Lake Manyara National Park. The park is especially famous for waterfowl and migratory birds. Ornithologists will fall in love with Lake Manyara.

Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park

Lions hunt on the grassy shores of the lake, and are now famous for their habit of climbing trees – a unique habit to Manyara and Tarangire National Park and due to the frequent flooding of the lake. Finally the forests around Lake Manyara are one of the best places around to see leopards.

Our favourite place to stay is actually outside this park: in the small and colourful village of Karatu or in one of the cooler hillside lodges.

Minimum stay: as birds are best seen (light) early morning and evening, we suggest you best take a full day in the park.

Airlines: no domestic airline flies into Lake Manyara. The only transport in and out is by vehicle. It takes approximately  3 hours from Arusha to the Lake Manyara Park entry gates and this gate is located between the villages of Karatu and Mto wa Mbu.

Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
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