This Park covers an area of around 330 square kilometres and much of which is lake Manyara itself. It’s often visited as a day trip, en route to other destinations and despite its relatively modest size, Lake Manyara National Park has a wide diversity of habitats, mammals and birdlife which thus make a longer visit very worthwhile.
From the bird-fringed waters of the soda lake, which are normally tinged pink by the reflection of innumerable flamingos standing in its shallows, to the grassy floodplains, the park teems with wildlife. Lions lounge in trees; leopards prowl the wooded slopes of the escarpment; and huge troops of baboons shake the forest canopy or forage through the bush like an army in search of tasty morsels.
Several camps and lodges offer a range of activities, from night drives and bush walks to bike riding and a treetop walkway. If you head south towards the park’s southern boundary, you’re likely to have the park to yourself as excursion vehicles rarely reach these parts.
While the accommodation in the park is expensive, in compensation it can be convenient for quieter wildlife-viewing. However, if you’re looking for a more economical option, there are plenty of accommodation facilities outside the park but which are close enough to the main entrance gate to allow quick access for a day of rewarding exploration. Accommodation along the top of the Rift Valley escarpment offers the bonus of spectacular views over the park.
Lake Manyara’s game includes good numbers of elephants, buffalos and wildebeest along with plenty of giraffes. Also prolific in number are zebras, waterbucks, warthogs and impalas. You may need to search a little harder for the small and relatively shy Kirk’s dik-dik, and klipspringer on the slopes of the escarpment. The broken forests and escarpment make it a good habitat for leopards, whilst Manyara’s healthy lions are famous for their tree-climbing antics (which is unusual yes but not as unique to the park as is often claimed). Immediately obvious to most visitors are the huge troops of baboons – which often number several hundreds and are widely regarded as Africa’s largest.
As with the habitats, birdlife here is exceptionally varied. In the middle of the lake, you’ll often see flocks of pelicans and the pink-shading of distant flamingos, while the margins and floodplains feed innumerable herons, egrets, stilts, stalks, spoonbills and other waders. With so much water around, the woodlands are equally productive, but it is the evergreen forests where you’ll spot some more entertaining species such as the noisy silvery-cheeked hornbills, crowned eagles and crested guinea fowl.