Lake Manyara National Park – Best Tanzania Safaris
Lake Manyara is on of Tanzania’s most dramatically located wildlife areas, consisting of a shallow soda lake (covering two-thirds of the lake) at the foot of the Great Rift Valley’s western escarpment. The parks varied shoreline habitats contain a wide variety of habitats, which include lush groundwater forests, a swampy fan delta, acacia woodlands and a small grassy plain.
This varied habitat attracts a wide variety of animals, including one of Africa’s largest concentrations of elephants, and the algae in the lake attract large flocks of flamingos. The park therefore supports a great variety of wildlife. Manyara’s main attraction is its rich bird life, its tree-climbing lions and its hippos, which can be observed here at very close range. In his book “The Green Hills of Africa” Hemingway describes his trophy hunting expeditions into the lake Manyara area, which used to be prime hunting country many years ago. The park is very picturesque but the dense groundwater forest areas can made spotting game more difficult – but undoubtedly exciting – it is therefore a good idea to visited the park at the start of your trip, before you become to jaded with wildlife. A day trip is sufficient to see most of the parks sights.
The agricultural and fresh produce market town of Mto WA Mbu is situated next to the entrance of Lake Manyara National Park. The enormous amount of groundwater pouring through the rock of the escarpment in this area has created the ideal habitat for fresh produce -And the local farmers grow everything ranging from bananas to maize. The town is a souvenir hunters paradise, harbouring thousands souvenir salesmen – ready to pounce at the slightest invitation. Mto WA Mbu, which literally means “mosquito creek”, is very malarial so make sure you put on lots of insect repellent.
Wherever you drive in Lake Manyara National Park – lake Manyara is never far away. The water is slightly alkaline, even though fresh water rivers, streams, and escarpment springs mainly feed the lake. A diverse collection of water birds like pelicans, storks cormorants, geese and ducks all congregate in abundance around the shores of lake Manyara, and at certain times of the year the lake hosts thousands of flamingos.
After entering the park, the visitor is surrounded by the “Ground Water Forest”. This unique forest area resembles a tropical rain forest, but the vegetation is mainly supported by an underground water supply instead of an abundant rainfall as in the case of rain forests. This unique forest provides an ideal habitat for the blue monkey, bush and waterbuck, the nocturnal aardvark as well as the vervets, the favorite prey of the leopard. The forest, which produces an abundant number of wild fruits and figs, is a great attraction for the majestic elephant and the few remaining black rhino in the park. The Hippo Pool located in the Simba river not only attracts these 3000kg animals but many of the parks nearly 400 species of birds, including the predatory fish eagle, which lives in and around the Hippo Pool. Further south, between the Msasa and Bagayo rivers, the ground water forest changes into a flat-topped acacia woodland – the home of the notorious tree-climbing lions of lake Manyara. Grass feeders and browsers like impala, zebra, giraffe and elephant are also common in this area. Further south, past the Bagayo River, an area most notable for its majestic baobab trees, lays Maji Moto Ngogo a fresh but hot water spring (40° C). Near the end of the park a second set of hot water springs, Maji Moto bubbling around (60° C) can be seen – a good place to boil your eggs for lunch!
LAKE MANYARA’S TREE CLIMBING LIONS
Lake Manyara’s most visible predators, and also its prime tourist attraction are lions, famous for their habit of climbing trees. Why the lions of Lake Manyara and not those of nearby Serengeti and Ngorongoro spend so much time in trees remains a mystery. The acacia (umbrella trees) woodlands south of the Msasa River do however provide an ideal spot for the Lions to retreat to, in the heat of the day.
LODGES AND CAMPS
There are several tented camps and luxury lodges available around Lake Manyara National Park. Please click here to get full details of all camps and tents in Lake Manyara.