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Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park is a national park in Tanzania situated in both Arusha region and Manyara region and these two administrative regions have no authority over the parks. Lake Manyara National Park is notorious for the flamingos that dwell in the lake. Throughout the wet season they inhabit the edges of the lake in flocks of thousands but they are absent during the dry season.

Situated on the way to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, Lake Manyara National Park is worth a stop in its own right. The park’s ground water forests, bush plains, baobab strewn cliffs, and algae-streaked hot springs offer incredible ecological variety in a small area, rich in wildlife and incredible numbers of birds. The alkaline soda of Lake Manyara is home to an incredible display of bird life that flourishes on its brackish waters. Pink flamingo bend and graze by the thousands colorful specks against the grey minerals of the lake shore. Yellow-billed storks dive and twist on warm air winds rising up from the escarpment, and herons flap their wings against the sun-drenched sky. Even reluctant bird-watchers will find something to watch and wonder at within the national park. Lake Manyara National park covers a geographical area of about 330 square kilometers of forest, arid land and much of the land is covered by the soda lake during the rainy season but absent during the arid season. Tacked between the Arusha and Manyara regions, this park runs on a narrow strip between Lake Manyara and the Gregory Rift Valley wall. Lake Manyara is acidic in nature and it attracts a lot of pink flamingos. The park is home to the Big Five and due to its close nearness to Tarangire, visits to these parks can be combined in one itinerary.  This park was recognized in 1960 and has its main point of emphasis as Manyara Lake. In the whole of the East African Rift, Ernest Hemingway identified lake Manyara as the most luxurious place, its impressive setting that he once commended with the documentary maker, Collin Willock. Passionate safari tourists like to get to the world famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro getting there more often through the Manyara National park. Within a considerably small location, Lake Manyara Park clouds a range of important microcosm of the safari experience in Tanzania.

How to get to lake manyara national park

As part of the famed northern safari journey, Lake Manyara National park can only be visited by very few people in isolation. Most of the safaris to this particular destination of Lake Manyara National Park, start their journey from the town of Arusha.

By Air

The best way to get there is by flying into the Kilimanjaro International Airport. (KIA). From Arusha, this airport is located in a distance of about 46 kilometers. Using a local flight, it is also likely to fly to Arusha Airport (ARK) while flying into the Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam. Booking a cheap flight from Nairobi in Kenya is another option to explore and take a shuttle bus to Arusha. At such times, visitors can always be picked up by their tour operators from Tanzania as well as dealing with any other ground operations like ongoing flights. Situated at the top of the rift wall, there is also another airport, Lake Manyara Airport (LKY)

Charter flights can be arranged from Arusha and the Serengeti to Manyara’s airstrip. Here, it is a 10 minutes’ drive from the park after landing at Manyara airstrip on the escarpment. Domestic flights can be arranged with a domestic carrier. Additionally, charter flights between parks are in most cases booked by their tour operator as part of your safari package.

On the Road

Located southwest of Arusha, Lake Manyara National Park is in a distance of 126 kilometers and can easily be reached by car. Visitors can also flexibly get there from Bahati, the capital of Manyara region.

By car, one can also take a trip (road safari) to the newly tarred road from Arusha which only takes 1 ½ to 2 hours to reach the entrance gate. Since lake Manyara Park is on the way to Ngorongoro crater and the Serengeti which are the other parks of the northern circuit, most people prefer to take a circuit by a safari vehicle. You would need to rent a vehicle to enter the park via the gateway village Mto Wa Mbu which is accessible by bus.

All year through, there is a good access to this park and note that the best time for large mammals is the dry season that comes between July to October while November to June the wet season which is best for birds.

When to visit lake Manyara National Park

Dry season (June to October)

During this period, it’s very easy to see the wild animals since they usually gather around the common waterholes and the vegetation is not that very thick. The dry season comes with a lot of sunshine and less rainfall. The risk of getting infected with malaria is pretty minimal since there are very few mosquitoes. Do not forget to bring warm clothes as these will be of use during the morning game drives as they are always cold especially from the months of June up to August.

Wet season (November to May)

During the wet season, the park’s scenery is always green and beautiful and there are usually lesser crowds during the months of the low season as well as the rates are generally lower. Though wild animals are easier to see during the dry season, this national Park offers wonderful views of wild animals during the dry months. This is the finest time for watching birds since there are abundant migrant species within the park. Most of the Roads are unclear and very challenging to drive through.  The ultimate of the rain season is from March to May.

What to see and venture into while at lake manyara national park

Located beneath the cliffs of the Manyara Escarpment, on the edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park offers varied ecosystems, incredible bird life, and breathtaking views.

Wildlife & Africa’s Largest Concentration of African Elephants

Tarangire National Park is home to Tanzania’s largest elephant population, but it’s in Lake Manyara national park that you find Africa’s largest concentration of elephants. Once it comes to seeing elephants in the wild, you’ll find few places that can compete with elephants. The African elephant can be highly enjoyable to observe for extended periods but also physically threatening on account of its gigantic bulk, fierce proclaiming call and unpredictable character. The African elephant weighs 6,000kg and the largest living land animal and has the longest gestation period is 21-22months.The African elephant has got its protective feature called the trunk which it uses to pick leaves from high branches, tear up food, suck water, play wrestling and courtship. One of the rewarding experience is when you spot them wallowing or spraying themselves with water one would not want to miss out this while on a safari to northern Tanzania. Additionally, the park offers excellent opportunities to see mongooses, the lovable Kirk’s dik-dik, hippos, buffaloes, antelopes, gazelles, and large groups of baboons.

Tree-Climbing Lions

The lions of Lake Manyara National Park are a scarcity among their own kind, being some of the only lions in the world to regularly climb trees and use them as places as rest. The fortunate photographers will get the chance to spot and snap these beautiful creatures hanging on the branches of acacia trees. Though researchers are not pretty sure just why the lions here have developed this remarkable habit, nevertheless visitors to the park are the ones who take advantage seeing such unique behavior from such beautiful creatures. Lake Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions are additional aim to pay a visit to this park. The only kind of their species in the world, they make the earliest mahogany and sophisticated acacias their home during the rainy season, and are a well-known but rather rare feature of the northern park. In addition to the lions, the national park is also habitat to the largest attention of baboons anywhere in the world — a fact that accounts for exciting game viewing of large families of the primates.

Lake Manyara

A lonely lake subject to penetrating vaporization during the arid season, Lake Manyara is a marginally salty lake that is a dwelling to hippopotamus, flamingoes, and a large variety of marine life. Despite its salt concentration, it is harmless for animals to drink and is a common watering hole for the park’s animal population. Walks can engaged along Lake manyara during the dry season because it shrinks to a small size as well as canoe safaris can be done on Lake Manyara during the wet season because it swells to a sizable body of water. It is possible to view different bird species when water is present like Peregrine Falcon, Ruppel’s Griffon, Sacred Ibis, Pied Kingfisher and plenty of flamingoes.

Maji Moto Springs

When visitors wind their way down a bumpy, dusty road through the desert land surrounding Lake Manyara National Park, it might seem questionable that something as attractive and soothing as Maji Moto could exist out here. Yet when the escape comes into view, it’s all worth the long drive. Maji Moto (Swahili word for hot water) is a natural spring bounded by palm and fig trees, an isolated haven of crystal clear waters, sun-dappled shady picnic spots, and matchless beauty. Not so much a hot spring as it is a warm spring, Maji Moto is an unspoiled place for a swim and a picnic lunch.


One of the most familiar and appealing sights of the African savannah is that of a warthog family running off with a characteristic aura of determined casualness, long tails raised stiffly in the air. This remarkably slender, long-legged swine stands up to 80cm high at the shoulder, has a sparsely-haired grey coat that contrasts with its long dorsal mane, large upward curving tusks, and a triangle of callus-like facial warts. Like their native counterparts, warthogs are simple diners, eating anything from fruits and crops to flesh and new-born animals, but they are most limited to roots and bulbs, which are rooted out using the tusk and elongated snout. When in danger, warthogs rear into their hidden burrows, brutal tusks pointing outward to discourage any intruder from following. They sometimes dig the burrows themselves but more often appropriate then from other burrowing animals thus presenting a remarkably view to the visitors.

Lake Manyara national park offers breathtaking scenery that enables tourists to sit and loosen up as they get enjoyment from the clear views of the various large animals living here. Some of the additional safari adventure activities you can enjoy within Lake Manyara National Park include: swimming, photographing, canoeing, cultural activities, horse riding, safari walks and cycling. Best of all, this park can be visited which ever time of the year and you will be rewarded with wonderful views of wildlife. ‘Mto Wa Mbu’ found close to the park boundaries and it’s here that most of the tourists make stops to buy some souvenirs such as African carvings in the local crafts market. Important to note is that this is the ideal place to try your bargaining skills since you can get some of the items at a lower price than their asking price hence enabling you to save some money.

Birding in Lake Manyara National Park

Manyara offers the picture-perfect overview to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been noted, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. The attractions include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large water birds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks, silvery –cheeked hornbill, saddle-billed stork, pied kingfisher, pied avocet all merging together to provide a spectacular show to the on looker.

 The silvery –cheeked hornbill is one of the large species of hornbill found in Africa and they normally reside in the tall evergreen forests of East Africa. It usually measures 75 to 80cm and 30 to 31 in length and has a large cream-colored casque on the beak. The Silvery-cheeked Hornbill patronizes montane and coastal forests, but also corridor forest, tall deciduous forest and woodland. The Silvery-cheeked Hornbill is mostly a fruit-eater, and consumes fruits from various plant species, and especially figs. It also clips small vertebrates, young birds, lizards, centipedes, insects and spiders.

When the silvery –cheeked hornbill flies, it catches some preys, but it feeds primarily among the vegetation. It may come to the ground for feeding. It rarely drinks. Its frugivorous diet provides it the necessary water. The Silvery-cheeked Hornbill has straight and swelling flight, with periods of gliding every 4-5 wing-beats. During the flight, the wings yield a loud soughing noise.

The Silvery-cheeked Hornbill is locally shared but patchily distributed. This species is vulnerable to deforestation, but can use several types of habitats. The Silvery-cheeked Hornbill feeds mainly on fruits from more than 26 plant genera. It also takes small vertebrates, young birds and nest contents, lizards, centipedes, insects and spiders. It feeds mainly among the vegetation and sometimes on the ground as this will offer guests a memorable experience.

Pink flamingos Colonies of pink flamingos migrate from one lake to another throughout the year coming to Lake Manyara National Park in the period from June to September. As their dwelling, they choose the mud flats where crayfishes, which are their main diet, live. Without it their feathers have grey-white color. While newly hatched flamingos are always grey, they become pink as they get older – in a year, thanks to the color carotene which is contained in their food.

Where to stay while in Lake Manyara National Park

Escarpment luxury lodge

Located only 20 minutes from the Serena Airstrip after which visitors can connect to Arusha Airport and various airstrips within the Serengeti and, Kenya International Airport. Escarpment Luxury Lodge settles along a rift wall at height above sea level, presenting a glorious view of the lake. The lodge is a luxury set up with abundantly stoned and timbered, stylish constructions built up at varying levels between light woodland with a widespread pool which overlooks the magical setting of lake manyara national park to one end and the dramatic rift valley dropping down at the other giving you spectacular views. The lodge is a comfortable set up with a pleasant common area with a restaurant, a full stocked bar and a lounge area. The restaurant provides all the necessary cuisines as the qualified chefs ensure to provide the best quality that will give you a more memorable dinning experience. The lounge bar has a wraparound level which provides views of lake manyara and the gorge as you listen to the sounds of Africa. A spreading surface surrounding the main lodge gives you breathtaking views of the lake and the gorge upon which the lodge settles watch pelican sweep the heavens as you take sundowners. The staff is friendly and welcoming and take excessive pride in prolonging warm, personalized, and attentive service to our valued guests. The lodge has 16 large and private cottages that can accommodate 2-3 guests and their rooms are clean and appealing with king sized beds and mosquito nets. From the decking, the bed, and even from the bath, views of the gorge are astonishing, through lush woodland and Lake Manyara glittering in the middle distance. The inhabitant wildlife is a basic part of your African holiday at Escarpment. Servals, dik-diks and mongooses on or underneath the surfaces and birdsong in the nearby bushes cheer up your shelter day and by night. On an Escarpment Luxury Lodge safari with African Mecca, visitors will find themselves in a beautiful and relaxing environment, adjourned between diverse comfort, wilderness and reliable instinctive African way of life. Gentle Maasai cow alarm bells can be heard on the morning breeze waking you up to your morning hot drink, and lingering evening tunes drift from nearby villages.

Kirurumu Tented Lodge is one of the best bars in Africa with spectacular views. Kirurumu Tented Lodge stands out for its views, the personal trace of the staff and its bar which, we would contend, is one of the best in Africa. Generally, only used as an ending place on the way through to the Ngorongoro Crater, we always commend using Kirurumu as a base for discovering this captivating area a little more. The rooms at Kirurumu Tented Lodge are fairly simple using the traditional safari construction of wooden plinth and balcony with palm roof and the main canvas tent hanging off this frame. This construction is great in that it allows the tent to remain cool in the heat of the African day, while also offering some shade to look out to the view. Besides, it allows for plenty of room inside the tents and the simple but spacious design works well. Kirurumu Tented Lodge is a great little camp that has the feel of a camp that is owner managed and, therefore, has the small details that are only there if care has been taken. Watching out over the extensive Rift Valley and towards Lake Manyara National Park, there is nothing like arriving after a long journey to Tanzania, putting your feet up and sipping on a G&T as the sun goes down.

Migunga Tented Camp – Lake Manyara

Migunga Tented Camp is settled in a quiet angle on the northwest of Lake Manyara. The camp is preferably positioned in shade of an acacia forest, only 5 minutes from the entrance of Lake Manyara National Park. This is the perfect base camp to see the beautiful surroundings of Lake Manyara, or pay a cultural holiday to the colorful town of Mto Wa Mbu.The camp is fixed in 35 acres of acacia forest and contains of 21 enduring tents on elevated platforms, all with en-suite bathrooms and a private veranda overseeing the lush forest. All the tents are individually placed around a dominant opening, presenting shade and privacy, but still only a short walk to the restaurant and bar.

At Migunga visitors will wake up in the morning to the wide-ranging sounds of the forest, with rays of the sun discovering their way through the tall trees. Then in the afternoon guests can enjoy mountain bike ride trail through Lake Manyara’s courtyard or appreciate viewing our vervet monkeys manure about on the central field. The evenings are echoing with the classic sounds of forest creatures, making your imaginary complete.

Featured Park: Serengeti

Serengeti National Park is one the most popular Tanzania safari destinations. It's the country's oldest park.