Think of Lake Manyara as a baby safari, as an acclimatizing period before you go deal with the big boys. The natural beauty found in Lake Manyara is second to none, but the game viewing opportunities in the area feel somewhat pale, especially when compared to the ones found in the Serengeti.
Lake Manyara covers 330 sq. kms., making it one of the smallest national parks in Africa, but its small size does nothing to prevent it from supporting as many as 11 ecosystems and offering varied experiences. This can also be attributed to its altitude, which ranges from 953 meters to 1,445 meters. Since roughly two-thirds of the park is covered by the lake, a majority of the animals can be found in concentrated areas, making animal sightings easy and pleasurable. Lake Manyara National Park gets the following relevant safari ratings:
- Wildlife Rating: 4 stars out of 5
- Scenery Rating: 5 stars out of 5
- Bush Vibe: 3 stars out of 5
Lake Manyara is most famous for its tree-climbing lions and thousands of flamingos, but it also hosts animals such as elephants, wildebeests, giraffes, buffalo, water bucks, impala, warthog, zebra, klipspringer, Kirk’s dik-dik and leopards. The park has a huge population of baboons as well, many of which rank among the largest in Africa.
Lions can be found climbing trees in other parks as well, but it is somewhat of a specialty here. Checking out an entire pride of lions resting in an acacia tree is sure to be the best experience of your African safari. And if you happen to capture that on film, expect your Instagram account to go crazy within moments! Who knows, you might even end up winning one of those Instagram contests!
Game drives during the daytime have always been popular, but Lake Manyara is one of those few national parks in Africa to introduce night safaris as well as camps inside the park. This opens up a wealth of opportunities for adventure and nature lovers and presents activities such as mountain biking, village trips, hiking and trekking.
While many tours avoid Lake Manyara, we recommend you to take that extra step. Apart from the breathtaking scenery and stunning flamingo viewing opportunities, the park lets you see elephants from up close and offers easy accommodations, night safari experiences, and a vast diversity of birds and animals in a relatively small area. The park can get incredibly crowded between the months of June to July and October to April, but if you do manage to beat the crowds, this is as good as African expeditions get.
The most famous place to stay in Lake Manyara is the Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, the only one offering accommodation inside the park. Other places worth exploring can be found in Rift Valley, which is known to offer stunning views of the park. Your best options here would be the Lake Manyara Serena Lodge and the Kirurumu Tented Camp. Some tourists also stay in lodges located in the Karatu area. The best bets here are Gibbs Farm and the Plantation Lodge, with both offering easy access to Lake Manyara.
The months of July to October see very little rainfall and are the best months to visit Lake Manyara and meet its animal population. However, those in love with birds,canoeing and serene waterfalls would find the area to be more attractive during the wet season, i.e., the months of November to June.
While you might be able to check out as many as 100 species of birds on any given day, Lake Manyara isn’t the best place to spot carnivores. Those tree-climbing lions are an obvious charm, but the game drive isn’t the same. So it always makes sense to add one of the following experiences into your Lake Manyara adventures, especially since both attractions are located quite close to the park.
- Serengeti National Park: Home to the Great Migration, the Serengeti needs no introduction. The best thing to do here is to lose yourself (with a guide obviously) and discover new species at every step. Click here to find out more about Serengeti adventures.
- Ngorongoro Conservation Center: The Ngorongoro Conservation Center is your best bet of seeing the Big 5 on the same day. It is also one of those few places in Africa where you could see the elusive black rhino.