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”. Lake Manyara National Park
derives its name from the Masai word "Manyara," which is the
name for the plant Euphorbia tirucalli. The Masai use this plant
to grow livestock stockades. Eventually Manyara will produce a
stockproof hedge that is more durable than any made of cut
thorn branches. There is a specimen of Euphorbia tirucalli at
the entrance gate. Regardless of direction you approach Lake
Manyara National Park from, your first view of Lake Manyara
National Park is spectacular.
Despite the fact Lake Manyara National Park is only 330
square kilometers (127 square miles) in area—of which about 230
square kilometers (89 square miles) are lake, it contains a
large variety of habitats: the rift wall, the ground water
forest, acacia woodland, areas of open grassland, the lake
shore, swamp, and the lake itself. Due to the variety of
habitats the Park is able to support a large number of species.
Over 380 species of birds, some migratory, have been recorded in
the Park. The large variety of mammals, reptiles and birds in
the Park and the different types of vegetation, all within a
small area, make Lake Manyara a diverse and particularly
memorable place to visit. In the Manyara area there is no
eastern wall to the Rift Valley as there is in Kenya. Here the
flattish country falls very gently into a depression, while in
Kenya the valley has walls to both east and west.
Lake Manyara National Park is an ideal size for a day trip.
You can leave camp or the lodge early, picnic at one of the
sites, and then return towards evening. The Park roads are
suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles, although some of the
tracks are for dry season use only. Surprisingly enough, it is
easy to drive past a tree full of sleeping lions unless you are
trained through constant practice to spot them. There is only
one entrance to the park, and so all trails start and end at the
Game drives, night game drives, canoeing when the water
levels is sufficiently high.
Cultural tours, picnicking, bush lunch/dinner, mountain bike
tours, abseiling and forest walks on the escarpment outside the
Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions,impressively tusked
elephants, Squadrons of banded mongoose , the diminutive Kirk’s
dik-dik, 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.
Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s
birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a
first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe
100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of
pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as
other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.