Lake Manyara National Park is quite a small park located in Tanzania. It stretches over an expanse of 320 sq km. The park is found at the bottom of the western part of the floor of the Great East African Rift Valley escarpment. ‘Manyara’ is word in the local Masai languages that refers to ‘the Euphorbia Tirucalli plant’. This plant normally grows on hedges the surround the different Masai homesteads. Approximately 231 sq km of the park is occupied by an alkaline lake known as Lake Manyara. This alkaline lake is great habitat to numerous numbers of flamingos and more than 400 species of bird like the waterfowl.
The National Park is located in Tanzania’s northern part just one hour and thirty minutes drive from the town of Arusha along the newly tarmac-surfaced road. This park is situated along the way to Ngorongoro crater as well as the renowned Serengeti.
Lake Manyara National Park was primarily conserved back in 1960 to safe-guard the resident elephants. There are large numbers of elephants in the park and this is the largest elephant population in the whole of Tanzania. In addition to the elephants, other species of wild animals commonly sighted at in the park are: the tree-climbing-lions, the Masai giraffe, blue monkeys, cheetahs, buffalo hippos and baboons.
The park is also well-known for its resident tree climbing lions. There are actually just 2 lion populations in the whole world that have the ability to climb trees and this is one of the two populations. Several visitors visit this area to observer these lions as they calmly climb and rest in the Acacia plus Fig trees may be to escape from the heat of the sun. These lions spend most of the entire day sleeping up in the branches of the trees. But worth mentioning is that the main reason why the lions in the park love resting or climbing the trees is a mystery.
However, a safari in this park is perfect for tourists that have less little time to spend at leisure as it may require just two hours to tour the entire national park. Additionally, the park supports a blend of vegetation that includes acacia trees, ground water forest, the lake, grassland and a swamp.
Lake Manyara possesses very attractive scenery that enables tourists to sit and unwind as they pleasure in the game viewing. Other activities you can enjoy in the park include; swimming, photographing, horse riding, cultural activities safari walks, canoeing and cycling. What is more is that you can tour Lake Manyara National Park at any time through the year. Mto Wa Mbu is a craft shop adjacent to the park where tourists can always stop to purchase some wood carvings to take back home as souvenirs. ‘Mto Wa Mbu’ is a local phrase that means “mosquito creek”! Those with better bargaining capability can purchase other items from the nearby local market at very low prices.
With more than 400 species of birds recorded in the park, the blend of large mammals, reptiles and a diversity of vegetation will give you a memorable safari holiday in this natural paradise.
Game viewing in Lake Manyara national Park is best done through the dry season that is from July up to October. During this time, visitors are assured of seeing several large animal species. Bird watching, enjoying the waterfalls and also canoeing, are best done starting November up to June. Night game drives are permitted within the park but only in the company of your guide. The park can be accessed either by a scheduled flight coming from Arusha or by road transport.