Lake Manyara is best used as a soft introduction to a safari. While the scenic beauty of this park certainly makes it worth a visit, the game viewing here pales into insignificance when compared with that on offer in Tarangire, the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. Famous for its tree-climbing lions, flamingos, breathtaking scenery and the soda-ash lake in the centre, Manyara merits a day trip but not much longer.
Lake Manyara is a lovely scenic park on the road from Arusha to the Ngorongoro Crater, famous for its tree climbing lions, good elephants and baboons. The lake itself takes up much of the park, leaving a strip of land running along its shores where game concentrates.
Often visited for an afternoon game drive on the way to Ngorongoro, it would be a shame to miss out Manyara if you're driving straight past it - but it's really not up there with the heavyweight big boys in terms of game viewing. However, if you're going on to Ngorongoro and Serengeti, you'll see plenty of game there anyway...
Lake Manyara: the game
The concentrations of game here is not nearly as high as in surrounding parks, but there are a number of unique species that give reason enough to safari here. The park's main attraction are Lake Manyara's famous tree climbing lions - why these lions habitually climb trees is still up for debate, but viewing a pride relaxing in an acacia tree is a remarkable sight! The park is also famous for its elephant and huge number of baboons, and its varied landscape supports an impressive range of other game including wildebeest, buffalo, hippo, flamingo, zebra, warthog, waterbuck, dik-dik and impala. The birding here is also very good, especially raptors.
When to go
According to the regional migration pattern, Manyara's official peak season is from July to October. However for such a small park this should not be a deciding factor; if you are in the area and have time, Lake Manyara is consistently good as a soft game viewing park at any time of the year.
The main activity for visitor is day time game driving, although the park has recently started to offer night safaris and the camps deep inside the park offer short walks. Staying in the Rift Valley outside the park however does open up a wealth of possibilities, with activities such as walking, village trips, hiking and mountain biking available at some lodges.
Where to stay
The most famous lodge at Manyara is &Beyond's luxurious Lake Manyara Tree Lodge
, which offers the only accommodation actually inside 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, the best of which are Plantation Lodge and Gibbs Farm, both allowing equally convenient access to Lake Manyara
and the Ngorongoro Crater.
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 edition was published in 2005 so some of it might be slightly dated but generally it’s as comprehensive as they come.