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What we love

The tree-climbing lions that make this park their home.

Lake Manyara National Park

Tanzania

The destination

Lake Manyara is a beautiful national park, that along with Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Serengeti, make up the 'Northern Circuit'.

The park ecosystem is dominated by Lake Manyara, providing the perfect habitat for numerous bird species, including large numbers of flamingos that feed on the rich soil of the soda lake.

Lake Manyara National Park has become famous for its tree-climbing lions, as the big cats here have had to adapt their behaviour,  due to the dense forest and the presence of large herds of somewhat clumsy elephants.

As the park is relatively small in comparison to its neighbours, and easily accessible on the road from Arusha to Ngorongoro, many visitors choose to visit only for the day rather than spend the night in the area, which means park roads close to the main gate can be crowded in high season.

However, the vast expense of the lake, and the backdrop of the great Rift Valley escarpment, mean that Lake Manyara National Park is a beautiful place to visit, and a complementary safari experience to those found elsewhere.

WHERE TO STAY?

There is only one permanent lodge set within the park, and that is the eponymously titled Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Part of the luxury andBeyond group, this isn't the cheapest lodge in Tanzania, but is certainly one of the most unique. Ten tree houses are built into the forest, providing excellent wildlife viewing opportunities across the canopy, with elephant sightings in camp common. The team here are delightful, and will ensure you leave with magical memories.

As mentioned above, many visitors choose not to stay in Lake Manyara National Park and make a day visit on the way from Arusha to Karatu in Ngorongoro. This is a pleasant way to visit the park, and break up the journey on the way to the dazzling Ngorongoro crater.

GAME VIEWING

Due to the dominance of Lake Manyara, and the dense forest that surrounds it, big game viewing is not as easy as in other safari areas. However, the tree-climbing lions are really worth visiting for. On our first visit to the park, we were lucky enough to park up under a tree with two large females and several cubs resting in the branches above us. An experience not for the faint-hearted!

Birding here is really excellent, with over four hundred species sighted within Lake Manyara National Park, which is incredible considering the size of the area.

Night driving is available from Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, which provides an excellent way to experience the habitat from a different perspective.

WHO SHOULD VISIT?

Lake Manyara National Park is perfect for a day visit for those who are on their first safari trip to Africa and want to acclimatise themselves before heading on to some of the bigger names, such as Ngorongoro crater and Serengeti National Park.

If you are a seasoned safari goer, we would recommend avoiding the area around the main gate during busy periods. If you want to experience the park at its beautiful best, consider a one or two night stay at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, which will allow you explore the lesser visited areas of the park, far from the crowds.

WHEN TO VISIT?

Lake Manyara is a reliable park to visit all year round, with the exception of the long rain season of April and May. Tsetse flies can be fierce in certain areas during the height of the dry season (July and August) and the lake is at its fullest from January to September. If flamingoes are what you've come for, then November to March is the time to visit.

Location

Top tips

  • Spend a day visiting Lake Manyara on the way from Arusha to Ngorongoro. A visit to the park is a lovely way to break up the journey, and get you acclimatised to life on safari.
  • If you'd really like to experience Lake Manyara at its very best, consider a stay at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, the only permanent lodge contained within the park. Here you will be truly spoiled!
  • Travel between November and March to give yourself the best chance of seeing large flocks of flamingoes on the lake
  • Keep looking up, you don't want to miss those lions in the trees!

 

  • Local currency: Tanzanian Shilling
  • Accepted currency: USD
  • Accepted credit cards: Visa and MasterCard (most places)
  • Timezone: GMT +3 hrs

Hotels in Lake Manyara National Park

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