Lake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania's most dramatically located African wildlife animals areas, consisting of a shallow soda lake (covering two-thirds of the park) at the foot of the Great Rift Valley's western escarpment.
Lake Manyara National Park's varied shoreline contains a wide variety of habitats, which include lush groundwater forests, a swampy fan delta, acacia woodlands and a small grassy plain.
This varied habitat attracts a wide variety of wildlife animals, including one of Africa's largest concentrations of elephants, and the algae growing in the lake, attract large flocks of flamingos.
This African National Wildlife Park therefore supports a great variety of animals. Lake Manyara's main safari attraction is its rich bird life, its tree-climbing lions and its hippos and other animals, which can be observed here, at very close range.
In his book "The Green Hills of Africa" Hemingway describes his African animals trophy hunting expeditions into the African Lake Manyara National Park area, which used to be prime wildlife animals hunting country many years ago. The national park is very picturesque but the dense groundwater forest areas can make spotting animals more difficult – but undoubtedly an exciting safari adventure. It is therefore a good idea to visit the game park at the start of your safari, before you become to jaded with wildlife. A day trip is sufficient to see most of the parks sights and animals.
Wherever you drive in the Lake Manyara National Park – the lake is never far away. The water is slightly alkaline, even though fresh water rivers, streams, and escarpment springs mainly feed the lake. A diverse collection of water birds like pelicans, storks, cormorants, geese and ducks all congregate in abundance around the shores of Lake Manyara, and at certain times of the year the lake hosts thousands of flamingos.
sightseeing-lake-manyaraAfter entering the Lake Manyara National Park, the visitor is surrounded by the "ground water forest". This unique forest area resembles a tropical rain forest, but the vegetation is mainly supported by an underground water supply instead of an abundant rainfall as in the case of rain forests. This unique forest provides an ideal wildlife habitat for the African blue monkey, bush and waterbuck, the nocturnal aardvark as well as the vervets, the favorite prey of the leopard. The forest, which produces an abundant number of wild fruits and figs, is a great attraction for the majestic African elephant and the few remaining black rhino in the park. The Hippo Pool located in the Simba River, not only attracts these 3000kg animals, but many of the parks nearly 400 species of birds, including the predatory fish eagle, which lives in and around the Hippo Pool.
Further south, between the Msasa and Bagayo rivers, the ground water forest changes into a flat-topped acacia woodland – the home of the notorious tree-climbing lions of Lake Manyara. Grass feeders and browsers like impala, zebra, giraffe and elephant are also common in this area. Further south, past the Bagayo River, an area most notable for its majestic baobab trees, lays Maji Moto Ngogo a fresh but hot water spring (40°C). Near the end of the park a second set of hot water springs, Maji Moto bubbling around (60°C) can be seen – a good place to boil your eggs for lunch!
Lake Manyara's most visible predators, and also its prime tourist attraction are lions, famous for their habit of climbing trees. Why the lions of Lake Manyara National Park and not those of nearby Serengeti and Ngorongoro spend so much time in trees remains a mystery. The acacia (umbrella trees) woodlands south of the Msasa River, do however provide an ideal spot for the Lions to retreat to, in the heat of the day.