Chances are, you probably haven't heard much about Lake Manyara. It’s one of Tanzania’s lesser-known national parks and is often bypassed in favour of the country’s more famous wildlife experiences. If you’re thinking of giving it a miss, we’ve got one word of advice: don’t. Though much smaller than other northern circuit parks, it packs quite a punch with its animal-spotting opportunities. You could be watching large herds of elephants wandering through the forests one minute and observing a lioness lounging in an acacia tree the next. Safaris here offer a great introduction to Africa’s vast variety of flora and fauna, and unlike the larger parks, it can more or less be covered in half a day. There’s a pleasantly serene atmosphere and thinner crowds here too. To be honest, we can’t think of any reasons why you wouldn’t want to visit.
As well as its wildlife, Lake Manyara National Park is celebrated for its natural beauty. For a relatively small park, it has a surprisingly diverse range of landscapes, with 11 ecosystems in total. No matter which direction you explore, the spectacular scenery won’t fail to impress, from the eye-catching Rift Valley escarpment in the west to the sprawling lake in the east. In fact, it’s this very lake that Ernest Hemingway famously said was ‘the loveliest in Africa’. Pretty high praise, right? Elsewhere, there are marshes, forests and savannah, all of which make a beautiful backdrop to your wildlife viewing experience.
Find the famous tree-climbing lions basking in their glory and elegant flamingos putting on a show at Lake Manyara National Park. You’ll find hippos bathing in a pond and have a chance to see wildlife after dusk on a night time game drive. Also, the nearby Great Rift Valley is a place for hiking and mountain biking for the adventurous traveller too.
As expected, it’s the animals that bring most people to Lake Manyara National Park. Safaris follow a looped track around the park, offering the chance to see a whole host of wonderful creatures along the way. One of the main attractions (though they’re not always easy to find) are the famous tree-climbing lions. No one's quite sure why they’ve adopted this unusual behaviour, but what we do know is that the sight of these big cats clinging to the trees makes a fantastic photo-op.
Manyara is also known for its large population of flamingos, which flock in their thousands around the lake during the wet season. And while we're on the subject of birds, the park has a whopping 400 species in total, and you can expect to see up to 100 of them in a single day. The varied landscapes support a range of other mammals too, including leopards, cheetahs, elephants, gazelle, giraffe and baboons. A highlight for many is the chance to leave the safari vehicle and watch hippos bathing in a pond from a close - but safe - distance.
As well as day safaris, Lake Manyara is the only northern circuit park that allows night drives, which are normally reserved for guests at private lodges. Some of the camps in the park also offer guided walking safaris along three different trails, where you can enjoy up-close viewings of the animals and plant life.
If you’re staying just outside of the park, the Great Rift Valley is a natural playground for activities such as village visits, hiking and mountain biking. You won’t be short on things to do, that’s for sure.
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If you’re looking for fantastic wildlife and beautiful scenery, Lake Manyara is well worth a visit. Find out more about this underrated national park and pick up some useful travel tips by reading our blogs.
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