Lake Manyara is a beautiful national park situated between the dramatic escarpment of the Great Rift Valley and flamingo-filled lake water. The permanent lake covers about two-thirds of the park. The water’s edge and surrounding marshlands are great places to watch wildlife, such as elephants, buffalo, lions, and hippos. The lake is also a great place to see larger populations of water birds like flamingos, pelicans, storks, and herons. Lake Manyara’s ground water forest supports a strong population of resident wildlife throughout the year. This tropical-like forest is fed by drainage from the volcanic rock of the rift wall.
Lake Manyara’s convenient location, close to the main transit road to the Serengeti, makes it one of the busier parks in Tanzania. This park is easy to explore due to its small size, and it is a perfect place to stop for a scenic picnic on the way to the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. In addition to the small number of camps located inside the park, adjacent conservation areas are home to small, personalized camps. These conservation areas have extended the region’s protected, wild areas, and offer a wide range of activities and private wildlife viewing. Their central location provides a great opportunity to explore both Tarangire and Lake Manyara.
The flow of migratory wildlife in and out of the park revolves around seasonal rains. Lake Manyara typically experiences two rainy seasons. The heavy rainy season lasts from March until May, and the short rainy season lasts from November to December. November’s rains occur at the end of a prolonged dry season and bring intermittent mild showers, clear skies, and relief to parched terrain.
Some camps in Northern Tanzania close during the heavy rains when logistics become more difficult. Their reopening in May is marked by lush green growth. In June, the region transitions welcomes the dry winter season that lasts into September. This time of year brings cooler temperatures, especially at night, and migrating mammals move into the park to take advantage of the fresh water and lush foliage in the ground water forest.
Lake Manyara’s distinct microenvironments support a population of predators, antelopes, elephants, buffalo, and up to 400 bird species throughout the year. The dense forest area is a favorite spot for the African elephant, and the rocky ridges of the escarpment wall are a great place to see highly adapted antelopes, called klipspringers. The open grasslands attract zebras and wildebeests, while more than a million flamingos visit the lake’s water each year. Lake Manyara is an ideal place to watch troops of baboons go about their day and pods of hippos laze around freshwater pools.