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Lake Manyara National Park

Size

330 km² (130 mi²)

Founded

1960 (National Park)

Best time to visit

June to October

The perfect place to stop and unwind in nature

Nestled in ancient forests with incredible views of the sweeping escarpment, Lake Manyara is the perfect place to relax in nature and unwind from city life. This was attested to by Hemmingway, who camped in the mahogany and fig tree forest and wrote about the beauty of the lake in a book called ‘Green Hills of Africa’. Only ninety minutes from Arusha, it is a great stop-off on your way to the Serengeti National Park.

View across Lake Manyara National Park

Unique forests in a beautiful landscape await you

Lake Manyara National Park is one of the oldest and at the same time smallest of Tanzania’s parks. While the wildlife may not be as abundant as in other parks, it has beautiful landscapes, and it is the perfect place for nature lovers to unwind on the first few days of a safari.

It is an alkaline lake surrounded by vegetation that transitions from groundwater forests to flood plains and finally to grasslands dotted with acacia trees. The lake is fed from the northern Simba River and the eastern Makuyuni River. Plus, it forms part of the Rift Valley catchment during the rainy seasons. In recent years the lake’s water level has risen significantly and skeletons of waterlogged trees mark the old shoreline.

Park inhabitants include buffalos, hippos, baboons, waterbucks, impalas, giraffes, zebras, and wildebeests. There is a healthy population of leopards, but sightings are rare due to the thick vegetation. In the past, the park was renowned for large populations of elephants and tree-climbing lions, however, since the lake’s water levels have risen sightings are rarer.

Highlights:

On entry, visitors to Lake Manyara National Park are greeted by a green forest which boasts ancient Mahogany, Sycamore fig, Kapok and huge Baobabs trees. The park is home to large groups of olive baboons with as many as 150 individuals in the troop. They can be seen playing and foraging in the forest and rivers.

Views of the lake are stunning with 670 flowering species and 180 butterfly species found here. For bird enthusiasts, this park is truly rewarding as over 390 species of birds have been recorded. The peace of the forest can be disrupted by the trumpeting calls of the Silvery-cheeked Hornbills, Ground Hornbills and Red-billed Hornbills. Water birds like Blacksmith Plovers, Little Egrets, Black Herons, Spoonbills and Pink Backed Pelicans can be seen here. Flamingos, once abundant, are now seasonal visitors due to the increased water level.

Large herds of wildebeests, zebras and buffaloes like to gather on the open flood plains from where they graze and can keep a lookout for approaching predators.

Lake Manyara National Park map
waves

The lake is a whopping 220 km²

This alkaline lake is huge and during the peak of the rainy season it occupies two-thirds of the park, but incredibly it is only three meters deep. In the past years, lake levels have gone up even further.

nature lovers

Nature Lovers

While the number of wildlife has gone down due to a rise in water levels, the abundant natural beauty makes it a great stop for nature lovers. Unwind and relax.

baboons

Olive Baboons

Lake Manyara National Park is home to huge troops of olive baboons with groups as large as 150 individuals. Leopards are their greatest predator.

Baboons seen on game drive

On game drives in Lake Manyara National Park, you can see large troops of baboons and take time to observe their behaviour.

Hornbill Tanzania forest

There is ample bird life to discover in the green forest canopies.

Manyaras Secret swimming pool Lake Manyara National Park

The park offers great camps and lodges to relax and enjoy nature – like the Manyara Secrets Lodge.

Elephant sighting Lake Manyara National Park

Since water levels of the lake have risen significantly, it is more difficult to spot elephants and other mammals. They are expected to return once the levels go down again.

WHEN TO GO

Best time to go to Lake Manyara National Park

You can visit Lake Manyara almost all-year-round. During the dry season from June to late October, the weather is warm and pleasant with low humidity levels and minimal chance of rain. It is the best time to see the wildlife as animals and birds congregate near water sources during the five-month period of no rain. The short rains occur less predictably in November and December in short afternoon showers. A second dry period from January and February is another good time to visit, whilst the long rains, which occur in daily thunderstorms from March to May, render parts of the park inaccessible.

dry season

Dry Season

June to October

Best for wildlife watching and relaxing in nature

rainy season

Green Season

March to May

Best for bird watching and to see nesting behaviour

Why to go

Immerse yourself in nature

Hemmingway and his wife Pauline set up camp in the mahogany and fig tree forests of Lake Manyara in 1934. With stunning views of the lake and the sweeping escarpment, they would have enjoyed watching the sunrise and sunset whilst listening to a symphony of bird calls and the snorting interjection of hippos coming up for air, followed by their deep and charismatic honking calls. Today, you can still immerse yourself in nature and unwind. Even though wildlife numbers are lower than in other parks, the beauty of the lake and the forested landscapes, on an otherwise savannah-based safari, is a tranquil place to start a safari.

Nasikia Mandhari Lodge Lake Manyara National Park
Lazaro Safari Guide
In Lazaro, we had a kind and professional guide by our side. He knew how to give us an understanding of the fascinating symbiosis of nature and wildlife. Lazaro has an extraordinary intuition and a sharp eye.
Carina & Elmar | Germany

Experience Lake Manyara National Park

Bird life Lake Manyara
Classic Game Drives

Enjoy a guided safari in the forested park, and look out for the colourful birdlife.

Changing landscapes Lake Manyara National Park
Photography

Capture storytelling pictures, showing how rising water levels have reshaped the park.

Things to do

Forest wildlife and stunning views

A visit to Lake Manyara National Park is a great introduction to the safari experience. Take a break from the rest of the world and enjoy the view.

  • Bird watching on game drives
  • Photography
Troop of Olive Baboons
Olive Baboons

You can see them roaming the park in very large numbers.

Two zebras
Zebra

Zebras are a well-known sight on safaris.

Elephant Lake Manyara
Elephant

Fewer in numbers than in the past, you can still see them roaming the forest.

Flamingos rising Lake Manyara National Park
Flamingos

Once water levels will go down, flamingos are expected back at the lake.

WILDLIFE IN LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK

A primate and birdwatchers' paradise in a forested landscape

Those passionate about nature will enjoy seeing the large troops of olive baboons and the array of birdlife and butterflies amongst the ancient trees. Wildebeests, zebras, buffaloes, giraffes, and a variety of antelopes reside in the park. Inhabitants such as the Bat-eared Fox, honey badger, jackal, hyena, lion, and leopard are present but are difficult to see. Elephants, whilst fewer in number than previously, can also be seen in the park. Once water levels start going down again, flamingos are expected to make a return.

Where to stay at Lake Manyara

Kirurumu Manyara Lodge

Kirurumu Manyara Lodge

Nasikia Mandhari Lodge

Nasikia Mandhari Lodge

Manyara's Secret

Manyara’s Secret

andBeyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge

andBeyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge

Manyara Best View Lodge

Manyara Best View Lodge

Escarpment Luxury Lodge

Escarpment Luxury Lodge

Mawe Mawe Manyara Lodge

Mawe Mawe Manyara Lodge

Serena Manyara Lodge

Lake Manyara Serena Lodge

Location

Lake Manyara National Park is located only 126km (78mi) from Arusha and is only a ninety-minute drive on an excellent road, which makes the park the perfect stop-off on the way to the Serengeti National Park. Entry into the park is possible at the northern and southern gates, with the latter less frequently used. The majority of the accommodation is located in the north. Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National can be visited next and they are only three-and-a-half hours away.

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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