Stig Nygaard

photo: Stig Nygaard

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Overview

Set below the tall burnished cliffs of the Rift Valley escarpment, in a setting Ernest Hemingway rated as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa,” Lake Manyara National Park is the smallest of the reserves that compose Tanzania’s northern safari circuit. Yet it packs an enormous diversity of habitats and wildlife into its compact boundaries. Its centerpiece is the lake for which it is named, a shallow water body whose extent varies greatly from one season and one year to the next, depending on rainfall. Terrestrial habitats include the grassy floodplain, dense acacia thickets, the rocky escarpment base, and the lush groundwater forest that ...

Set below the tall burnished cliffs of the Rift Valley escarpment, in a setting Ernest Hemingway rated as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa,” Lake Manyara National Park is the smallest of the reserves that compose Tanzania’s northern safari circuit. Yet it packs an enormous diversity of habitats and wildlife into its compact boundaries. Its centerpiece is the lake for which it is named, a shallow water body whose extent varies greatly from one season and one year to the next, depending on rainfall. Terrestrial habitats include the grassy floodplain, dense acacia thickets, the rocky escarpment base, and the lush groundwater forest that encloses the main entrance gate. The forest is a good place to watch baboon behavior, and it also supports large numbers of the smaller and more mildly behaved blue monkey. Large mammals that frequent the open plain and savannah include giraffe, elephant, buffalo, zebra, impala and various antelope species. Leopard are numerous here, though the thick cover means they are infrequently encountered, but the most visible predators – and prime tourist attraction – are lions, which have long been known for their idiosyncratic custom of spending hours lolling on the limbs of tall trees. Manyara is a fabulous reserve for the so-called small stuff. The diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik is common, while the rock-loving klipspringer is often seen silhouetted on the escarpment base near the hot springs. For birdwatchers, 51 species of diurnal raptor have been recorded, while water-associated birds are to be found in profusion – including large seasonal concentrations of flamingo, pelican and yellow-billed stork – and the park is a good place to see the raucous and somewhat comical silvery-cheeked hornbill.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Lake Manyara National Park is in the Arusha Region in Tanzania and is known for the flamingos that inhabit the lake. During the wet season they inhabit the edges of the lake in flocks of thousands but they are not so present during the dry season.
  • Language: Kiswahili or Swahili, English and Arabic
  • Currency: Tanzanian Shilling
  • Research: Lake Manyara | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Lake Manyara offers good wildlife viewing and excellent birding throughout the year.