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Lake Manyara Budget Safari Tours

Lake Manyara National Park is perfectly suited for those on a budget safari. Part of Tanzania’s world-famous Northern safari circuit, the park is best known for its population of tree-climbing lions. It really is quite an experience to look up into the trees and find yourself face to face with a pride of lions. It’s also one of the best places in these parts to see elephants, and to go looking for birds. Although it’s not a big park, there have been more than 400 bird species recorded here, and it’s not unusual to see nearly 100 in a single day. Best of all, the park is filled with forest wedged between steep cliffs and the lake itself, which makes for a really beautiful setting. It’s also an easy park to visit on the cheap.

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1-20 of 369 cheap tours, packages and holidays to Lake Manyara National Park

5 Questions About Lake Manyara Budget Safaris


5 Questions About Lake Manyara Budget Safaris

Answered by Anthony Ham

How many days is recommended for a Lake Manyara NP trip?

“Lake Manyara is a really compact park, with one main north–south track through the park. You could easily see the park in 1 full day and leave satisfied, although 2 days will allow you to really get to know the place (and increase your chances of seeing the tree-climbing lions). For a Lake Manyara budget safari, you’ll probably stay in (or near) the town of Mto wa Mbu, which has lots of affordable accommodation options. It’s a vibrant, multicultural place with most of the country’s ethnic groups represented here: make sure you have enough time to walk its streets for a taste of small-town Tanzanian life. If you’re adding on other parks, you’d want to allocate an extra 2 days to Tarangire National Park, 1 day for Ngorongoro Crater, and as much time as you can spare for the Serengeti.”


Which other parks should I visit on a budget safari to Lake Manyara NP?

“Most people on a Lake Manyara budget safari do so on tours or packages that combine Lake Manyara with time spent in Tarangire National Park (known for its big cats, elephants and baobab trees), Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. That’s because Lake Manyara sits in the heart of northern Tanzania’s best safari country, and there are plenty of choices for visiting other parks in the area. How many of these you can visit will depend on how many days you have for your trip. Lake Manyara lies around halfway between Arusha (the gateway to Tanzania’s Northern safari circuit) and the Serengeti. You could visit the park in 1 or 2 days, which should leave more time for other parks. All of these parks are reasonably close to Lake Manyara, and can be reached by road, without the need for expensive flights (although you may need to fly back to Arusha from the Serengeti, unless you have time to drive back).”


What type of accommodation can I expect on cheap Lake Manyara NP packages?

“There are two national park campsites within the park’s boundaries, one near the park entrance, another around an hour’s drive into the park, alongside the Endobash River. Both are simple affairs, with communal facilities (shower, toilets, cooking and dining areas) and space to pitch a tent. Near the park entrance, there are also national park bandas, which are simple, cheap bungalows with rooms. The park’s main entrance gate is very close to the small town of Mto wa Mbu which has plenty of affordable accommodation in the town itself. These include campgrounds and simple lodges with basic rooms; some will have en suite bathrooms, others won’t. The other areas with a few campsites are just off the main road that climbs the escarpment, and also high on the escarpment a short drive from the park.”


How do I avoid the crowds on a Lake Manyara NP safari?

“Lake Manyara is a busy place, lying as it does along the main safari loop through northern Tanzania. It’s also a narrow park with only one main route through it, meaning that it can be difficult to avoid the crowds within the park itself. One option is to plan your trip so that you stay at the Endobash River campsite: the park has very little accommodation within its boundaries, so staying here allows you to enjoy the place once the day-trippers have returned home. Staying in Mto wa Mbu is certainly busy, but it’s the Tanzanian character of the town (rather than the touristy side of things) that shines through. In this sense, the crowding may be entirely welcome! You could also visit outside the July-to-March high season, which is when things are at their busiest. From the second half of March until roughly the middle of May, rain can be a problem, canceling out the benefits of sharing your holiday with smaller crowds. June could be an excellent option.”


How much will this safari cost?

“The cost of a Lake Manyara budget safari varies considerably from one operator to the next, and no two safaris will ever be exactly the same. But as a general rule you can expect to pay around US$150 per person per day. This should include park entry fees (US$53/17.70 per adult/child per day), although these may not be included in the prices quoted to you by some operators for their tours and packages. Included in most quotes should be camping equipment, a guide, driver, vehicle, food, water, and two game drives per day (one in the early morning, the other late afternoon). For a really cheapo safari, you might be expected to help out around camp. Prices may be a little cheaper outside the high season months, although there aren’t many of these, and the price differential between the seasons is less for budget safaris than it is in other price categories.”


Lake Manyara Reviews

3.8/5 274 Reviews
Lizzie Williams  –  
South Africa ZA

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

A Diverse Variety of Landscapes in a Small Area, Sheltered by the Magnificent Rift Valley Escarpment

Lake Manyara is easily seen from the road that climbs up the Rift Valley, where all safari vehicles stop for a gawk at the pink flamingos, but what I like about this park is its simplicity for a game drive. There’s essentially one track...

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Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for Condé Nast Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

Lake Manyara NP is famous for its tree-climbing lions and astounding views over the lake

We drove through Lake Manyara National Park en-route to Ngorongoro and Serengeti, and it was pretty much our initiation to Tanzania’s parks. The views are spectacular (as is to be expected in this part of Tanzania) and Lake Manyara is a...

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Elizabeth Goli  –  
Australia AU
Reviewed: Mar 3, 2024

At the time i visited (early February 2024) it was not easy to see animals at Manyara as the grass was long. I saw quite a few baboons, gazelles and birds, but not much else during an afternoon safari. However, Manyara is one of the few...

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Omar  –  
Netherlands NL
Reviewed: Dec 14, 2023

Very nice forest scenery, good change with respect to the other parks. however, because of the dense forest, there is a little less wildlife easily visible than in the savannah biomes. still, lots of baboons, birds, elephants etc.

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Emma  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Nov 6, 2023

Lake Manyara was mainly forest. The highlights for me were seeing the behaviour of the elephants: We experienced a loan elephant being welcomed to an elephant tribe where they intwined their trunks.. I also loved seeing a group of giraffes...

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Merlin  –  
Germany DE
Reviewed: Oct 24, 2023

Flora we would not have expected in Tanzania. Many many trees and humid air alongside a huge lake. At some point it looked mysterious, like a deadland with mud and dead trees due to the natron/soda that the lake contains. It had a great...

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