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Lake Manyara is a small park between Arusha and the Ngorongoro Crater, famous for its tree climbing lions and fabulous birdlife dominated by thousands of flamingos on the beautiful soda lake at the heart of the park. There is a narrow strip of land around the lake for wildlife to concentrate along the shoreline. The park also has good elephant herds which are remarkably relaxed around people. It can easily be seen in a morning or an afternoon. In our view, aside from the spectacle of the lake itself, it doesn’t compare to its nearest neighbour Tarangire National Park. Visitors are more often than not usually on their way to the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Due to the fact that the park can easily be explored in a half day we’ve not included a recommended lodge as we would opt to stay in Tarangire or closer to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Karatu.
One reason to stop by Lake Manyara would be to look for the park’s unique species such as its famous tree climbing lions. There are different theories about why these lions habitually climb trees but the photo-opportunities speak for themselves. The park is also well-known for its incredibly tame elephant and huge number of baboons. As well as fantastic birds, you might also see a good range of other game including wildebeest, buffalo, hippo, flamingo, zebra, warthog, waterbuck, giraffe, dik-dik and impala.
Most people visit the park to marvel at the huge numbers of flamingo on the lake which can reach thousands at one time.
The main activity for guests is game driving during the day, although the park does sometimes allow night drives. As many guests are passing through, not many look to stay at the camps and lodges inside the park preferring to stay outside the park for a night. However, the options is there to spend a bit longer here. Staying outside the park does have advantages such as being able to enjoy foot safaris, village trips and hiking. The park is great for younger families who don’t want to be driving around a park all day preferring shorter drives with quicker wildlife fixes for younger ones before maybe jumping onto mountain bikes to explore the area. This is something that we have offered to young families in our tours and its always a winner.
Lake Manyara national park has a peak season of July to October in accordance with the regional migration pattern. However, unlike its neighbour Tarangire, Manyara is sufficiently small to afford a decent smattering of game viewing at any time of year. It is sometimes visited instead of Tarangire if time is short.
Whilst the park can be accessed by light aircraft scheduled flights from Dar es Salaam landing at Lake Manyara airstrip, most visitors pass through with their own game drive car and driver guide en-route to Ngorongoro and Serengeti.