As you approach Lake Manyara National Park, the Rift Valley escarpment looms on the eastern horizon forming an impressive backdrop to the lake. Nestling at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment the park is noted for its incredible beauty. The mosaic of the Park’s varying habitats is easily seen: the rift wall, the ground water forest, acacia woodlands, open grassland, the lake shore, swamp and the lake itself.
Visitors are likely to see lion, oftentimes resting up in the acacia trees, zebra, elephants, waterbuck, hippo, baboon, and a large variety of bird life. It is difficult to imagine a more spectacular setting on the edge of the Mto Wa Mbu escarpment, overlooking the Great Rift Valley and the stunning Manyara soda lake. Tree climbing lions are but one lure. The extraordinary birdlife has made this place world-renowned among ornithologists, who come to observe the masses of pink flamingos and birds of prey.
The climate never overheats at Lake Manyara, where average daytime temperatures peak at around 29°C/84°F in the Wet season (November to May). The pattern in this period is a month or two of ‘short rains’, then a dry spell, then a longer stretch of rain. It’s slightly cooler in the Dry season (June to October). The temperature plummets at night, however. Freezing conditions are rare, but they can happen.
The park is part of the popular northern safari circuit. Most safaris to this circuit (Manyara NP in particular) start from the town of Arusha. The best option to get there is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is situated about 46km/29mi from Arusha. It is also possible to fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and fly on to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) using a domestic flight.
The park has a good supply of wildlife and is known for its legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephant. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on the grassy plains. The hippo pool is a good place to see these creatures up close. The lake is a seasonal home to large flocks of flamingos, and a wide array of waterbirds can be found on the shore at all times.
Best Time to Visit
The wildlife watching is good at Lake Manyara practically all year. As a consequence, it’s high season in the park for all but two of the wetter months (April and May). That means maximum prices and lots of tourists, particularly in the morning. Less people come during the Wet season (November to May), however, so you might want to time your visit accordingly.