Lake Manyara Tanzania
Lake Manayara is one of the most scenic parks that you will encounter on your journey in Tanzania. Measuring only 330 sq. km, of which the lake occupies 230 sq. km, it is ideal for a day trip.
Lake Manayara is situated on the base of the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. It derives its name from the Maasai word 'manyara' which is a plant known to us as Euphorbia tiraculli. This plant is used by the Maasai as a hedge to form a stockade for their cattle. As you approach the village Mto wa Mbu (pronounced mtowamboe) from Arusha, the rift wall provides spectacular viewing. Whilst driving up the rift wall, Lake Manyara appears behind you. The view is breathtaking, as you take in this massive lake with it's silver shimmer and surrounding vegetation.
Resident herbivores that you will likely encounter include elephant, hippo, giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo, warthog and impala. Primates include vervet monkey and baboon. Lake Manyara boasts one of highest concentrations of baboons in Africa. The baboons are among the more exciting animals to watch in the park as they squabble and feud in their large extended family groups
The baboons, elephants and impala can be found in the groundwater forest in the immediate area around the park gate. This lush green forest of giant fig trees and mahoganies is fed from underground springs that are constantly replenished from the crater highlands directly above the Manyara basin. The forest gives way to floodplains that lead up to the lake about 30 minutes from the gate. On the flood plains and fringes you will encounter buffalo, wildebeest and giraffe. There are also several pools supporting large concentrations of hippos.
Carnivores include lion and leopard. There are several resident lion prides in the park but they are much more difficult to see as compared with their cousins in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. The leopards of Manyara, though abundant, are elusive and only the occasional lucky visitor ever glimpses one in Manyara. If your keen on seeing a leopard, make sure to spend two nights in the Central Serengeti as the Seronera River Valley is your best place to see if leopard in perhaps all of Africa.
It is commonly said that Lake Manyara is one of best the parks in Africa for birdwatchers. With over 300 species including migratory birds, even the most seasoned bird enthusiast will not be disappointed. The lake itself attracts thousands of greater and lesser flamingos along with many other aquatic species. Two of the more interesting species commonly seen are the long-crested eagle and the grey-headed kingfisher.
The views from some of the lodges on the rift wall are spectacular, and it is highly recommended that you spend at least one day/night of your safari in the area