Described by Ernest Hemingway as the ‘loveliest I had seen in Africa’, Lake Manyara National Park is situated on the Western escarpment of the Rift Valley. Home to lesser flamingos, tree-climbing lions, and one of Africa’s highest concentrations of elephants, Lake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania’s most popular safari destinations.

Located in the Arusha Region of northern Tanzania, Lake Manyara is the centrepiece of the Lake Manyara National Park. Lake Manyara is a soda lake and its 230km² surface covers two thirds of the park’s total area. Designated as a national park in 1960, Lake Manyara National Park is home to a diverse range of stunning landscapes, including marshland, dense acacia woodland, and steep rocky slopes.

Lake Manyara National Park is famous for housing vast flocks of flamingostree-climbing lions, and one of the highest concentrations of elephants in all of Tanzania.

Where does Lake Manyara fit into your Tanzanian adventure?

Lake Manyara is part of the northern circuit of national parks in Tanzania. A popular route is to start in Arusha and visit Lake Manyara before continuing to Serengeti National ParkNgorongoro Conservation Area, and finishing your adventure at Arusha. These attractions can be combined as part of a 5-6 day itinerary.

Although Lake Manyara National Park does not contain as much wildlife as its bigger sisters, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, scientists believed that Lake Manyara contained one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa during the 1980s.

Your park entry fee (US$53.10 per adult, per day at time of writing) will support conservation work that aims to return the park to its former glory as one of Africa’s most biodiverse areas.

Wildlife at Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara National Park is home to a diverse ecosystem which contains a range of habitats, including a soda lake, acacia woodland, equatorial forest, several types of savannah, and even mountain slopes.

Lesser flamingos and pelicans thrive at Lake Manyara, but its alkaline waters are undrinkable for most other animals. However, many animals are forced to drink Lake Manyara’s alkaline waters to survive the dry season since most other water sources dry up completely.

Lake Manyara National Park is famous for its tree-climbing lions. The park’s lions tend to climb trees far more often than lions in the Serengeti National Park or Tarangire National Park. This phenomenon has baffled scientists and seeing tree climbing lions on a game drive is an unforgettable experience.

Hot springs can be found in the south of the park, and the park is bisected by 2 rivers, the Mto wa Mbu River and the Endabash River.

Lake Manyara National Park is home to 400 bird species, and it is a paradise for bird enthusiasts. The park also contains water buffaloes, zebras, antelopes, wildebeests, and the world’s largest concentration of baboons.

The park’s elephant population has suffered from poaching, but conservation efforts have protected a strong population of these gentle giants.

When to visit Lake Manyara?

Like all of Tanzania’s national parks, Lake Manyara’s peak season is during the dry monthsfrom July to September.

The short dry season from mid-December to early March is also a good time to visit, but the temperatures can get very hot during this period.

Although you will see wildlife during the wet season, it will be more difficult to spot animals amongst the luscious vegetation. In the dry season, animals are drawn to the few remaining water sources and wildlife viewing opportunities are excellent.

Bird enthusiasts may choose to visit during the short rainy season from the end of October to December. Migratory birds visit the park during these months, but muddy roads may be impassable, and some lodges close during the low season.

Popular Trips to Tanzania

The tours below showcase just some of what is possible. Use these itineraries as starting points, or to draw inspiration. Then get in touch, and let our expert team help craft the perfect itinerary for you.

widlife, Primate & Gorilla Tours