Located in the background of the Great Rift Valley western escarpment, this long and narrow park covers the area between the escarpment and Lake Manyara. The lake is very shallow and alkaline and covers one-third of the park but reduces considerably in the dry season.
Lake Manyara National Park is very easy to access, taking about 90 minutes drive from Arusha and only an hour from the Ngorongoro Crater. Which is why on the northern side of the park can get very crowded, especially in the afternoons. To see the park at its best, we recommend that you either stay within the park or spend two nights somewhere close, entering the park early for a full-day safari.
There are two main entrances to the park, a northern and southern gate. The northern gate is much more used, because the majority of accommodation facilities can be found in the northern section of the park. The southern gate is not commonly used because of the very restricted access, and there are only few camps and lodges available at this entrance.
Covering only about 330km², of which commonly two-thirds is underwater, Lake Manyara National Park is a small park by African standards. However, it’s also very beautiful and represents a home to wide diversity of animals, especially birds.
Lake Manyara large mammals population includes good numbers of elephant, buffalo and wildebeest along with plenty of giraffes. Within the park you can also spot quite a number are zebra, waterbuck, warthog and impalas. You may need to put a little more effort to encounte small and relatively shy Kirk’s dik-dik, and klipspringer on the slopes of the escarpment. The broken forests and escarpment make a good home for leopards, while Manyara is famous for its tree-climbing lions, but this isn’t as unique to the park as is often claimed. Here you can find huge troops of baboons, which number often passes several hundred, and are considered as largest in Africa.
More than 400 species of birds inhabit the park and many of them remain throughout the year. Because of this Lake Manyara is a perfect spot for bird watching, since visitors to the park can expect to see more than 100 different species of bird on any day.
Lake Manyara National Park is located 126 km (78 mi) south west of Arusha and can be reached by car in an hour and a half. The park is also accessible from Babati, the capital of Manyara Region. There is also an airport, Lake Manyara Airport (LKY), located at the top of the rift wall.