Lake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania’s protected areas that was established in the early 1920s. However, the initial purpose for the establishment was not to protect and conserve wildlife but rather to carry out sport hunting because the area had a variety of animal species. In 1960, the area was given national park status and was able to run as a National Park in the country.
The park is found in Arusha and the Manyara Region in Tanzania. Currently, Lake Manyara National Park sits on an area of 322sqkm making it one of the smallest national parks in Tanzania. However, regardless of its size, the park offers the one best wildlife safaris in the country with the presence of various attractions from its landscape, the climate, the wildlife which has attracted many tourists to the park.
The park has gained popularity over the years with the presence of the tree-climbing lions which can also be seen in Queen Elizabeth National Park (Uganda). Lake Manyara the soda lake has attracted flamingos and the beautiful scenery of the park has increased tourism activities within the park. Much as Lake Manyara National Park is small, it compensates the tourists by being home to many of the breathtaking sceneries, being a haven to a number of wild animals and so on.
Attractions in Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara national park is a haven to a great number of flora and fauna that has led to the tourism activities in the Park to thrive from the wildlife animal species to the plant species and vegetation covers. The park has contributed to the growth of tourism in the area.
The park is a habitat to wildlife animal species with the presence of the grasslands where herbivores like zebras can get their food. The park is famous for its tree-climbing lions which are quite unique from other lions found elsewhere. The sole purpose for the lions to climb the trees is to locate their prey which is one of their hunting techniques. After locating their prey which in most cases is the impalas and the wildebeest they come down to the surface and start running over the prey in order to catch the prey which once witnessed is an exciting event.
Lake Manyara national park is also home to a number of other wildlife species like the largest land mammal on earth, the elephant which is usually seen on the shores of Lake Manyara quenching their thirst by drinking some water from the lake. The park has the highest concentration of elephants in the whole of Tanzania making it the one-stop area for tourists interested in seeing the mammals and other animals like the Masai giraffes, the duikers, bush babies, the buffalos, the zebras, impala, Grant’s Gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, baboons, waterbucks, cape buffalo, the hippos among others. The hippos can also be seen frequenting the lake in order to catch a swim and also take some water during the dry seasons where the scorching sun can be too much.
Aside from the herbivores, Lake Manyara National Park is also home to a number of predators like the bat-eared fox, the African civet, serval honey badger, black-backed jackal, the African golden cat, the mongoose, and cheetah. Their co-existence with other animals is rewarding to watch for instance when they want to feast on the herbivores like the wildebeest they will be seen running after their them and sometimes they succeed or not which is interesting to watch.
The park has a total number of 300 bird species in total, important to note are the pelicans which can be on lake Manyara feeding on the algae, the greater flamingos with their pink feathers and black beaks and the lesser flamingos with their white feathers and red beaks the park has 3 endemic Tanzanian birds and Eurasian migrant birds in the flood plains of the lake birds like the African kingfisher can be seen, the two banded coursers and the black-faced sand grouse among others.
For a tourist looking for adventure that can be seen on an aerial view, Lake Manyara national park is the place to be. The treetop at the area enables one to have breathtaking sceneries from a different angle of the park; the spot is commonly frequented by birders that are interested in seeing different bird species because they usually found in the trees where the treetop was put. However, it is not only the birders that gain from the walkway but also adventure tourists because hanging in the air while watching different animal species within the forest area of the par is quite rewarding and exciting at the same time.
Lake Manyara is home to a number of animals and especially bird species. The lake is one of the soda lakes in East Africa with salty waters which are good for the growth of algae that is used as food by the flamingos and the pelicans, the waters are also taken by different animals to quench their thirst, for instance, the elephants the hippos, the zebras and many more.
Maji Moto springs:
The Maji Moto springs are one of the most beautiful springs and the only springs that are found in the park, these have a crystal clear with warm waters which are perfect for tourists that want to take a dive in the springs they offer the best experience and the best breathtaking views while in the wild.
Activities in Lake Manyara
Some of the activities that can be carried out include the following
Game drives: The park organizes both day and night game drives but regardless of the time one decides to participate in the game drives they are sure of getting the best experience. The game drives are usually carried out in the open grasslands in the park which can enable a person to see the different animal species mainly the herbivores which are always seen grazing in the grasslands during the day. The night game drives are one of the best drives because a tourist is able to see nocturnal animals mainly predators while they search for dinner and among the predators that can be seen includes the lions and leopards.
Boat safaris: Among the national parks in Tanzania, Lake Manyara is the only park that allows tourists to carryout canoeing which is an adventure for tourists because they are able to see aquatic life and marine species not forgetting the beautiful pink flamingos that often flood gather on the lake looking for what to it. The cool breeze while on the canoe offers the best relaxation to the tourists while they have fun.
Cultural encounters: Tourists are able to engage with the Maasai communities which enable them to understand their different cultures and norms. A point to note is the architectural design of the Maasai, they are one of the few indigenous tribes in Africa that have maintained their culture without any changes even after the modern era. They are famous for their love for cattle which involves cattle rustling and to them, they believe they aren’t stealing but rather gaining what is rightfully theirs and to them, cattle is a God-given gift. Their beautiful bamboo huts that are constructed by using bamboo sticks, mud and cow dung is also an interesting attraction which enables the tourists to have a feel of rural life and how people from long ago used to construct their houses. The Masai people can also engage the tourists in the day to day activities like cattle grazing, millet grinding, they can also perform cultural dances and plays for them.
Birding: The park is home to a number of bird species which enables bird lovers to have a chance to see at least 120 bird species in a day. This is possible because the park is home to over 400 bird species including the African kingfisher can be seen, the two banded coursers and the black-faced sand grouse. Tourists interested in bird watching can carry out the activity around the lake area where different bird species are seen, in the forest where the treetop is because there are good habitats for the birds.
How to get to the park
The park can be accessed by tourists by either air or road transport depending on their nature of travel, their budget, and other factors.
By air transport, a tourist from outside countries can land at mountain Kilimanjaro international airport which operates domestic flights and then connect to Lake Manyara international airport. The distance from the airport to the park is approximately 23km where tourists use a safari vehicle from the airport to the park. This takes a few minutes for a tourist to reach the park.
By road transport, the park is 126km from Arusha town, and it takes about 2 hours for tourists to reach the park without the car having any mechanical problems. The tourists can also access the park while from Bahati town which is the capital of the Manyara region which is just minutes away from the park.
Accommodation in the Park
Tourists at Lake Manyara National Park can opt for different accommodation facilities that cater for budget, mid-range, and luxury tourists. Some of the facilities include the following;
Some of the accommodation facilities that are just a few minutes from the park offer excellent room service, free WIFI, spacious and clean rooms, 24-hour room service, dining services, overnight stay, well-mowed lawns, swimming pools and many more. These include; Karatu Tented Lodge located in Mto wa Mbu just 45 minutes away from the park, HKH lodge and campsite also located in Mto Wa Mbu which was 45 minutes from the park, High view hotel located in Karatu an hour from the park, Gibb’s farm also located in Karatu, Migombani Camp located 45 minutes away from the park in Mto Wa Mbu, Morona Hill Village also located in Mto Wa Mbu like Kilima Villa and many more.
Lake Manyara is one of the best tourism destinations and Africa at large, once visited the park will open up an exciting adventure that is incomparable to the visits to other parks, from the skilled personnel that are able to assist you at any time for example the park rangers, guides, wardens and many more to the beautiful sceneries that a present not living out the wildlife flora and fauna that fill the area . ‘‘Lake Manyara is indeed heaven on earth’’.