​Overview – Lake Manyara NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Bradt guidebooks to African destinations, including the guide to Tanzania.

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Bradt guidebook to Tanzania.

Philip is the author of the Bradt guidebook to Tanzania.

Lake Manyara National Park is dominated by a shallow alkaline lake at the base of the Rift Valley escarpment. It is famous for its tree-climbing lions and large elephant herds. The park entrance leads to a junglelike groundwater forest, which is home to big numbers of olive baboon and blue monkey. A thrilling 370m-/1,200ft-long treetop walkway offers a bird’s eye view into this unique habitat.

Best Time To Go June to October (Easier to spot animals)
High Season July to March (The northern section gets crowded)
Size 330km² / 127mi²
Altitude 934-1,325m / 3,064-4,347ft

Pros & Cons

  • Very relaxed elephants to view at close range
  • Stunning scenery
  • Superb birding
  • Near Arusha and en route to Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park
  • Activities include canoe safaris, night drives and a treetop walkway
  • Rarely crowded in the morning
  • Limited game-drive circuit
  • Limited accommodation inside the park, but plenty just outside
  • Crowded with day visitors (mainly in the afternoons)

Lake Manyara NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Due to Lake Manyara’s high water level in recent years, there isn’t a game-drive track following the shore anymore. This has unfortunately changed the quality of wildlife viewing and birding considerably. However, four of the Big Five are present (rhino is absent). Animals easily seen include buffalo, elephant, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest. Look out for solitary bushbuck creeping around in the forest undergrowth and pairs of klipspringer balancing on rocks near the hot springs (Maji Moto).

Scenery

The park has a remarkable variety of habitats in a small area. Most notable is the dense, evergreen groundwater forest featuring ancient mahogany and fig trees. Other habitats include the grassy floodplain, rocky escarpment and acacia woodland, all of which can be covered in a half-day visit. Deeper into the park, a visit to the hot springs (Maji Moto) is recommended.

Activities

You’ll see a lot of different wildlife quickly on game drives, but there are other ways to get close to nature in the park. On a night drive you’ll have a chance to find creatures that are active at night, and on a canoe safari you might possibly see the big flocks of pink-hued flamingos for which the park is famous. Lake Manyara can also be explored on foot. And if your nerves can take it, the treetop walkway is a must.

Weather & Climate

Lake Manyara’s average daytime temperatures reach around 28°C/82°F in the Wet season (November to May). The pattern in this period is a month or two of rain (November to December), then a dry spell around the beginning of the year, followed by another stretch of rain (March to May). It’s slightly cooler in the Dry season (June to October). Early mornings are chilly, and you’ll need a jacket to keep warm.

Best Time To Visit

Wildlife viewing in Lake Manyara is good throughout the year but is best in the Dry season from June to October. The exception is March and April as these months tend to be very wet. The scenery is at its most beautiful in the Wet season months (from November to May). Many people visit the park en route to or from the Ngorongoro Crater and few people stay in or near the park. Early mornings are therefore perfect for an uncrowded experience.

Want To Visit Lake Manyara NP?

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Lake Manyara NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Ariadne van Zandbergen  –  
South Africa ZA

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

Elephants, Tree-climbing Lions & Dramatic Scenery
4/5

Lake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania’s most scenic parks. The lakeshore with its floodplains gives way to acacia woodland below the steep walls of the Rift Valley escarpment. As you enter the park, you’ll find yourself in lush...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Eric Carrillo  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Jul 20, 2024
5/5

Beautiful park. Saw elephants and many baboons.

Full Review