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Manyara is best used as a soft introduction to a safari. The scenic beauty of Manyara is the main reason to travel here and certainly deserves a visit. But the game viewing pales into insignificance compared to the quality of game viewing on offer in Tarangire, the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. Being famous for its tree-climbing lions, flamingos, breathtaking scenery and the soda-ash lake in the centre makes it reason enough to visit here for a day.
Missing it out when driving straight passed Manyara, is ultimately a bit of a shame...we just question its quality as a big game viewing park but why worry when you’re about to go onto the Ngorongoro and Serengeti.
Laken Manyara is a lovely scenic park on the road from Arusha to the Ngorongoro Crater. The lake itself takes up much of the park leaving a strip of land running down its shores where game concentrates. Famous for its tree climbing lions, good elephants and baboons, Manyara is often visited for an afternoon's game drive on the way to Ngorongoro.
Overall it’s a great introduction to a Tanzania safari, but a park that is not a patch on its neighbours. It’s not a first choice of ours simply because of the low volume of game and the fact that the game driving areas are so small. But a lovely little park to stop off at and have lunch at the start of your safari.
Lake Manyara: What game will you see
Lake Manyara's game concentrations are not nearly as high as surrounding parks but there are a number of unique species that are reason to safari here. Lake Manyara's tree climbing lions are the parks main attraction. Why these lions habitually climb trees is still up for debate but viewing a pride relaxing in an acacia tree is an incredible site. The park is also famous for its elephant, huge number of baboons and due to its varied landscape has an impressive range of other game including wildebeest, buffalo, hippo, flamingo, zebra, warthog, waterbuck, dik-dik and impala. The birding here is very good, especially raptors.
Lake Manyara: When to go
Lake Manyara is consistently good as a soft game viewing park at anytime of the year. There is a seasonal migration pattern in the region which means that Manyara is officially at its peak from July to October. However, since it is such a small park, season is not the deciding factor to go here, it is whether you are in the area and have the time.
Lake Manyara: What activities are on offer
The main activity for visitors to Lake Manyara is day time game driving. Recently the park has started to offer night safari and the camps deep inside the park are offering short walks. Staying on the Rift Valley, outside the park however does open up a wealth of activities with walking, village trips, hiking, and other activities such as mountain biking available at some lodges.
Lake Manyara: An overview of where to stay
The most famous lodge at Manyara is &Beyond's Lake Manyara Tree Lodge; a luxurious property that offers the only accommodation in the park. Nestled on the top of the Rift Valley with superb views looking down into the park are the much more affordable Kirurumu Tented Camp and Lake Manyara Serena Lodge. We also use lodges in the nearby Karatu area for safaris to Lake Manyara. The best of these being either Plantation Lodge or Gibbs Farm, both allowing equally convenient access to Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro.
While we try and make our website as comprehensive as possible, if you would like some more background information on Lake Manyara, or Tanzania in general, have a read through the Cadogan Guide to Tanzania and Zanzibar, written by our director Annabel. The most recent addition was published in 2005 so some of it might be slightly dated but generally it’s as comprehensive as they come. Click here for the relevant section.
Recommended lodges in this area:
Although this is a large lodge, it disguises its size quite well with its spread out design. The little pointy thatched rooms are dotted over a large area creating good space between one another. With only a 20 minute drive to the park, the Lake Manyara Serena is a great option for this area given its access and amazing views. If a tented camp is not your thing or you don’t want to stay in neighbouring Karatu then this is a great choice.
Lake Manze is a genuinely fantastic yet simple safari camp. It has a prime position on the edge of a beautiful lake and is within shouting distance of pods of bathing hippo. No electricity in the lodge gives it a rustic edge, yet its comfort and charm give it an old world gravitas that other camps can’t touch. The camp is not about five star luxury, but in terms of safari and value for money, there are none better.
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge is one of the most luxurious lodges on the northern circuit, owned and run by &Beyond. Despite the luxury of the lodge it is perhaps one of the least visited, partly due to its location in the quieter area of the Lake Manyara and also since Manyara as a destination is overshadowed by the other larger game areas in the north. We think this lodge is great but would recommend at least two nights to make the long drive in worthwhile.