Located about 130 km (80 miles) southwest of Arusha, Lake Manyara National Park is a compact, verdant park that is highly prized by bird lovers from around the globe. Although small in size, Manyara packs a mighty punch. It starts the moment visitors drive through the entry gates and encounter the amazing groundwater forest. Here, guests can see all types of flora such as mahogany, sausage trees, ficus and wild mango trees.
Bird lovers are sure to be astounded by the vast array of birds, with over 400 species of migratory bird being found here. The saline waters of Lake Manyara are often dotted with bright-pink flamingos and stodgy pelicans. In addition to the large number of birds found at Lake Manyara, it is also possible to see several types of animals here, including the elusive tree-climbing lion.
For some reason, the lions of Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks have a penchant for climbing up into the branches of a sausage tree and lazing around in the heat of the day. Photographers will relish the opportunity to snap a photo or two, if they’re lucky enough to encounter one. It is possible to see four of the big five at Lake Manyara – buffalo, elephant, leopard and lion – with the rhino being the missing fifth animal.
Lake Manyara is recommended year-round, with only the months of April and May being a bit wet and difficult for travel. Due to its small size, most lodges are located outside of the park, en route to either Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater. There is one lodge inside the park and it is of very high standard.