LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK
Lake Manyara national park
Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.
Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance. Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favoured haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, while the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hot springs that steams and bubbles adjacent to the lakeshore in the far south of the park.
What to see and do
Known for its elephants and tree-climbing lions, Lake Manyara is also excellent for flamingos and other fascinating birds in and around the soda lake. From soaring groundwater forests and a tranquil lake, to the mountain escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park boasts an incredible wealth of habitats and diverse African wildlife. Guests are offered an exciting, interpretive safari experience in game-rich surrounds which include large herds of elephantand buffalo.An incredible array of bird life thrives on the alkaline soda of Lake Manyara. Pink flamingo stoop and graze by the thousands, colourful specks against the grey minerals of the lake shore. Also seen here are Yellow-billed storks and herons, all merging together to provide a spectacular show to the onlooker. Even reluctant bird-watchers will find something to watch and marvel at within the national park.
Best time to visit
The dry winter season is the perfect time to visit if what you are after is big game viewing, while the wet summer season brings the variety of birds, as well as water-based activities, which add something special to the safari.