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·· Lake Manyara
Diverse Habitats and Spectacular Vistas

YOUR first view as you approach Lake Manyara National Park is spectacular, regardless of direction. When you approach it from the east the Rift Valley escarpment looms on the horizon forming an impressive backdrop to the lake. If you come from the west and pause at the top of the escarpment, the Park lies in a green strip below you, the lake glistening in the sunlight.
Baobab on the grassy Tarangire Plains

You can easily pick out the mosaic of the Park's different habitats. In the tall trees of the ground water forest monkeys leap from branch to branch, on the slope of the escarpment elephant’s stand in the shade of a baobab. In the acacia woodland lions lie draped along the branches of umbrella trees, in the pools along the lakeshore the hippos wallow, and in the lake itself wade colourful flamingos.

The large variety of mammals, reptiles and birds in the Park and the different types of vegetation, all within a small area make Lake Manyara a diverse and particularly memorable place to visit.

As you approach the village of Mto wa Mbu (Mosquito Creek) from the direction of Arusha the outstanding landmark is the spectacular rift wall. Here where the Maasai plains give way to the cultivated uplands of Mbululand, lies Lake Manyara National Park, nestled at the base of the escarpment.

The Park derives its name from the Maasai word "manyara," which is the name for the plant Euphorbia tirucalli. The Maasai use this plant to grow livestock stockades. Eventually manyara will produce a stock proof hedge, which is more durable than any made of cut thorn branches. There is a specimen of Euphorbia tirucalli at the entrance gate.

The Great Rift Valley is part of a fault in the earth's crust, which stretches 8,000 kilometres (4,971 miles) from Turkey to the mouth of the Zambezi River in Mozambique. The fault is so massive that when astronauts landed on the moon the Rift Valley was clearly visible to them. In the Manyara area there is no eastern wall to the Rift Valley as there is in Kenya. Here the flattish country falls very gently into a depression, while in Kenya the valley has walls to both east and west.

The types of vegetation, which occur in the Park, are related to the geology of the area. The northern part of the Park, nearest the entrance, is composed mainly of volcanic rock, which, being porous, allows many streams of clear water to flow out of the base of the rift wall. Further south, around Msasa River, the volcanic rock gives way to ancient crystalline rock, which is hard and non-porous allowing fewer springs and streams to emerge. Those that do — the Ndala, Bagayo and Endabash — cascade down the entire face of the wall when flowing.

Despite the fact Lake Manyara National Park is only 330 square kilometres (127 square miles) in area — of which about 230 square kilometres (89 square miles) are lake — it contains a large variety of habitats: the rift wall, the ground water forest, acacia woodland, areas of open grassland, the lake shore, swamp and the lake itself. Due to the variety of habitats the Park is able to support a large number of species. Over 380 species of birds, some migratory, have been recorded in the Park.

Lake Manyara National Park is an ideal size for a day trip. You can leave camp or the lodge early, picnic at one of the sites and then return towards evening. The Park roads are suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles, although some of the tracks are for dry season use only. (The long dry season is usually from June to September and the short one from January to February.) In order to get the most from your visit to Manyara, drive slowly, take some of the loop roads and spend time looking at the different types of trees and watching animals.

It is recommended that you take a guide with you, because they know the roads well and where the wildlife is at any particular time. They can therefore plan an exciting game drive. Surprisingly enough, it is easy to drive past a tree full of sleeping lions unless you are trained through constant practice to spot them. There is only one entrance to the park, and so all trails start and end at the gate.

Recommended Lodges
Luxury Lake Manyara Lodges
These are a few of the best lodges to be found in Lake Manyara See more safari lodges in LAKE MANYARA

Bar and dining arae at Manyara Tree Lodge
Bar and dining arae at Manyara Tree Lodge

AFRICA TRAVEL  ► EAST AFRICA     ► TANZANIA ▼ Tanzania Travel Destinations Listed Below
Arusha Dar es Salaam  ► Lake Manyara Lake Victoria Mafia Island Mahale Mountains & Katavi Mount Kilimanjaro Ngorongoro Crater Pemba Island Ruaha National Park Selous Game Reserve Serengeti National Park Tarangire Zanzibar
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More about Tanzania and the top safari destinations of Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Selous and Zanzibar

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Select from our portfolio of Rift Valley, Lake Manyara and Tarangire Safari Lodges, Camps and Hotels.

• Kikoti Luxury Safari Camp
• Kirurumu Tented Camp
• Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
• Lake Manyara Tree Lodge
• Oliver's Camp
• Tarangire Safari Lodge
• Tarangire Treetops Camp


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