| Lake Manyara may also be the best place along your safari route to see the shy bushbuck,
which sometimes is spotted when dashing across the road. Some of the most notable tree
species are the many wild mango trees, the majestic sycomore figs and the very high
The acacia woodland further south is also home to many elephants, as well as to African
buffalos, giraffes, lions and impalas, and zebras and wildebeest may be seen seasonally
in the open grassland between the forest and the lake.
The name of the lake, Manyara, comes from the Maasai
word for finger euphorbia (Euphorbia tirucalli), a shrub found throughout the
area, and used by the Maasai for hedging.
Flamingos in the soda lake
Lake Manyara is a soda
lake, i.e. has a high content of sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. The
water is therefore not drinkable, but the algae and crustaceans living in such water
is eaten by flamingos, which can be seen in numbers on the lake. Generally, more flamingos
are seen (and are seen closer to the lakeshore) when the water level is high, i.e. during
and after rainy seasons.
The freshwater inlets into the lake are favoured by birds of many kinds, including pelicans,
cormorants, herons and storks. Hippos can be seen in the northern part of the park,
where the Mto wa Mbu River flows into the lake.
The lions of Lake Manyara are known for their habit to climb and rest in trees, as if
they were leopards. Lions in trees are hard to spot, though, due to the vegetation,
and you're more likely to see them on the ground. Dry riverbeds and the shrubs close
to the grasslands are often favoured by the lions.
Some bird species found in the park...
... are marabou stork, African spoonbill, long-crested eagle, crowned eagle, African
fish eagle, white-backed vulture, hooded vulture, pygmy kingfisher, giant kingfisher,
white-headed shrike, long-tailed fiscal shrike, bearded woodpecker, African paradise
flycatcher, grey heron, little egret, black heron, flamingo, white pelican, little bee-eater,
gull-billed tern, red-winged lark, emerald-spotted wood-dove, African drongo, silvery-cheeked
hornbill, crowned hornbill, yellow-billed oxpecker, lilac-breasted roller, red and yellow
barbet, crested guineafowl and paradise whydah.
The Msasa picnic site, just north of the Msasa River, has a beautiful view of the lake
and some nice birding. Another picnic site is located close to the lake shore further
south. It's a nice place to stop when the water level in the lake is high, attracting
vast numbers of flamingos. Both picnic sites have well-kept bathrooms.
Good road from Arusha
The road to Lake Manyara from Arusha
is fairly good to good tarmac all the way, and the bush roads for game drives within
the park are not very bumpy. This makes the park the best choice in northern Tanzania
for visitors who want to avoid poor roads.
Close to 400 bird species have been recorded in the park, and it has the highest density
of elephants in the country; 7 per km2/17 per sq mi. It's quite a small park though,
and it has a limited number of roads for game driving. For most safari-goers, a half-day
visit is enough to see the northern and most beautiful half. The southern half has shrubby
vegetation favoured by tsetse flies, so if you don't have a special interest in seeing
all of the park, you may want to avoid the south. During seasons of much rain, the southern
areas may be difficult to reach, as the roads going there may be flooded.
Lodges, camps and hotels
There is one lodge within the park, and a number of lodges
camps outside it. There are camping
sites and bandas
just outside the park's main entrance.
Tented Lodge is built above the rift escarpment north-west of the national park, offering views
of Lake Manyara, the Great Rift Valley and Losiminguri Mountain. There are 22 tents, of which 16
are spacious safari tents, and 6 are family rooms and suite. There is a restaurant and a bar.
More about Kirurumu Tented Lodge
Web site: www.kirurumu.net
Manyara Serena Safari Lodge is a good lodge built above the rift escarpment north-west of the
national park and has good views of Lake Manyara, the Great Rift Valley and Losiminguri Mountain.
The lodge has 67 rooms, restaurant and swimming pool.
More about Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge
Web site: www.serenahotels.com
Tented Camp is a tourist class tented camp some km/mi north-east of the park. The 19 tents have
verandas and private bathrooms. There is a restaurant and a bar. The forest surrounding the camp,
mainly consisting of yellow-barked acacias, has some interesting bird life.
Web site: www.moivaro.com
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge is a fairly new and exclusive lodge in the southern part of the park (where
it replaces the former tented camp Maji Moto). There are ten rooms, or tree houses, built in mahogany
Web site: www.lakemanyara.com
E Unoto Retreat is a lodge designed to resemble a Maasai village, situated
in the plains below the Great Rift Valley escarpment. There are 25 bungalows with
ensuite bathrooms. Four of the bungalows have wheelchair access. The lodge has
an open-air restaurant, a bar and a swimming pool.
Web site: www.maasaivillage.com
Wild Africa Manyara Lodge is a tourist class lodge set on the lower slopes
of the Great Rift Valley Escarpment and has wide views over the rift valley plains.
There are ten rooms with private balconies, restaurant and bar with seating indoors
and outdoors, and a swimming pool in a lodge garden.
Web site: www.wildafricamanyaralodge.com
Kibiko Bushcamp is a budget tented camp in the Great Rift Valley, not very
far from Lake Manyara National Park. It offers accommodation in basic safari tents
with ensuite bathrooms, meals, and various outings in the area.
Manyara Safari Lodge (under construction) is a luxury tented lodge presently
being built on the shore of Lake Manyara, outside the national park. It will initially
have 10 tents, and more will be added gradually. Good standard and comfort can
Web site: www.manyara-safari-lodge.com
Maji Moto Tented Camp has closed.