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Lake Manyara National Park

Established in 1960, and covering an area of about 325 sq km, Lake Manyara National Park, in between Arusha and Manyara Regions of Tanzania is one of the best parks in the country. Lake Manyara National Park is part of the Northern Tourism Circuit of Tanzania, and it is also administered by Tanapa.

Nestled between the soda ash Lake Manyara, from which it obtains its name, and the Great Right Valley, this park is famous for its thousands of pink flamingos that are attracted to the lake. Lake Manyara National Park is also famously reputed for its tree climbing lions.

The park has a diversity of habitats from the Rift Valley soda ash lake to the dense woodlands and the sleep mountainsides.

There are two theories advanced as from how Lake Manyara got its name. The first is that Manyara comes from the Maasai word “emanyara”, which is the spiky, protective enclosure around a boma, a Maasai homestead. Most likely, the 600 m high rift escarpment hems in the lake, like the enclosure of a Maasai boma.

The other theory is that the name came from the word, “manyero”, a Mbugwe tribe word which means a trough or place where animals drink water. The Mbugwe people live around the Lake Manyara area. 

Location: Arusha and Manyara Regions, Tanzania

Accessibility: By road and chartered flights

Nearest town/ city: Arusha and Babati

Accommodation: Various within and on the periphery, ranging from to luxury

Best time to visit: All year round although the dry season is ideal (June to October) 

Flora and Fauna of Lake Manyara National Park

Both the flora and fauna of Lake Manyara National Park are diverse.  Due to the diversity of habitats, this ecosystem supports different kinds of plant and animal life.

There are more than 670 documented flowering plants and fern species. The animal species in the park is dense and varied too.


The Lake Manyara National Park catchment area has grassland areas, swampy sections and woodland parts. These all are ideal areas for different flora.

Rivers and streams flowing from the escarpment, as well as some perennial water sources below provide a conducive environment for tall, evergreen groundwater forests. Sycamore fig, broad-leaved croton, forest-toad, and the quinine trees too, are predominant in these forests.

Bordering the groundwater forests are woodland that are dominated by acacia and palm trees.

On the other hand, the woodlands on the western side of the lake’s shore, are also supported by groundwater and are replete with acacias.

The flora in Lake Manyara National Park does not only comprise of the above-mentioned trees, but many others in addition to a rich diversity of flowering plants. Aquatic plants like water lilies, water lettuce among others, are available, and so are seasonal flowers.

The African baobab tree also thrives in some areas of this ecosystem.


Birds, mammals, and reptiles are not alien to Lake Manyara National Park. The diverse habitats support different kinds of animal life. This park is famed for its tree climbing lions as well as having one of the densest elephant populations in Africa.

Predators like the ‘Big Cats’, which comprises the cheetah, leopard and lion are spotted. Other predators found in this park are, the spotted hyena, black backed jackal, bat eared fox and the African civet among others.

Of course, predators can only thrive where prey abound, therefore, animals such as buffaloes, bushbucks, gazelles, impalas, warthogs, waterbucks and zebras, are some of the prey animals found in Lake Manyara National Park. Baboons, hippos are resident there too.

Snakes and different types of lizards also thrive in the different sections of the Lake Manyara National Park.

Bird species are plenty, with over 400 different types documented. Both migratory and resident birds can be viewed. There are big birds like ground hornbills and small birds like coucals and cuckoos. Songbirds as well as non-songbirds.

The park is famed for great numbers of flamingos, but other aquatic birds and those that thrive near the water’s edges are also a common sight in Lake Manyara National Park. Cormorants, egrets, hamerkops, herons, pelican, and storks are some of the bird species common in this catchment.

Raptors too, are not rare in this ecosystem. Martial eagles, hawk eagles, fish eagles, augur buzzards, vultures among many, are birds of prey that thrive in Lake Manyara National Park.

For those that have an interest in insects, plenty of them abound. More than 180 species of butterflies have been recorded in Lake Manyara National Park.

Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara is a shallow alkaline lake located in Monduli District of Arusha Region. It is the seventh largest lake in Tanzania, with a surface area of 470sq km (181.5 sq mi) and is fed by underground springs and mainly rainwater as well as some several streams from its surroundings. This lake lies within a closed basin with no outflow and therefore, its main loss of water is through evaporation.

The main type of fish found in Lake Manyara are catfish and tilapia, but due to the salinity of the lake, most fish tend to be found near the lake’s inflows where salt concentrations are comparatively lower.

Tree Climbing Lions of Manyara

Lake Manyara National Park is famous for its tree climbing lions. Normally, these big cats, unlike their relatives like the leopard, are not known for their ability to climb trees. However, the lions of Lake Manyara National Park can be seen among the branches of acacia, sycamore and candelabra trees. 

A number of reasons are attributed to the tree climbing characteristic of the lions of Manyara. One of them is that they do so in order to observe their prey. The other is that they do so to escape the heat and the bothersome insects.

Pink Flamingos of Manyara

Another attraction of Lake Manyara National Park is the flamingos and other bird species. Flocks of flamingos can congregate along the shores of Lake Manyara.

These are lesser flamingos which are relatively smaller and more brightly coloured than their counterparts, the greater flamingos. The lesser flamingos have a bright plumage which comes from the pigment of the algae and small crustaceans that they feed on in the lake.

Between August and October, which is their breeding season, the flamingos congregate in tens of thousands on the shores of the lake. The build mud nests in the shallow portion of Lake Manyara where they breed.

The flamingos are a marvel to behold, and they feed along the soda ash Lake Manyara.

Lake Manyara National Park Attractions and Activities

The enchanting Lake Manyara National Park abounds with attractions and is never short of awesome activities. Throughout the year, there is something captivating about this national park.

Among many other things, tourists can have a memorable moment as the visit some attractions and undertake some of the activities below.

Wildlife Viewing

Lake Manyara National Park is a sanctuary for different species of wildlife. It is a park renown, among others, for its tree climbing lions and the huge herds of elephants.

Tourist can have an enriching and exciting experience as they view wildlife during game drives or walking safaris.

Flamingo Sightings

The flamingos of Lake Manyara National Park have earned this sanctuary a respectable name among national parks globally.

These elegant birds in their multitudes are a marvel to watch as the feed and waddle in shallow waters of Lake Manyara.


Undoubtedly, the diversity of bird species in Lake Manyara National Park results in great opportunities for birdwatch.

Night Game Drives

These activities an ideal activity for spotting nocturnal animals. Some animal species are active during the night and this is the best chance of seeing them.

Nature Walks

For a close encounter with nature, nature walks are great. Tourist can learn and appreciate more of Lake Manyara National Park as they take some exciting nature walks.

Treetop Walkway

The Treetop Walkway in Lake Manyara National Park is a suspended bridge on which tourists can walk and enjoy a spectacular view of some game and the scenery of the surrounding.

Maasai Cultural Experience

Along the way to Lake Manyara National Park, in Mto Wa Mbu town, tourists have an opportunity to interact with the Maasai ethnic tribe. This experience undoubtedly is a chance to learn about and appreciate the colourful Maasai way of life.

Tourists can visit the ‘manyattas’, which are Maasai homesteads, attend cultural events and simply mingle and learn about their well-preserved heritage.

Sightseeing the Sceneries

With its diverse habitats, varying landscapes, sightseeing in Lake Manyara National Park is an activity that leaves lasting memories upon the minds of those fortunate enough to have the chance to do so.

We know Lake Manyara National Park

Like our hand’s palm,

So, do remain calm

As we show you every site and mark,

Of this beautiful sanctuary.


Get in touch with Tanzania Offroad Trips for an exciting encounter with Tanzania’s wild.







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