elephants by jeep in lake manyara

Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara Natinal Park is the smallest of Tanzanias famous northern circuit national parks. Yet despite it's small size it is diverse ond rich in animals and plants. Lake Manyara is a great place to get up and close with african elephants, see thousands of flamingos, spot hudreds of species of birds and see big herbivores such as buffalo, zebra, giraffe, impala and many other animals.

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Lake Manyara is at the bottom of the Rift Valley escarpment

Highlights of Lake Manyara

Elephants

Lake Manyara has more elephants per square kilometer than any park in Africa and they often come very close to safari jeeps.

Baobab trees

The ground water forest is home to many millenia old baobab trees. These huge trees that according to legens the gods planting upside with the roots in the air.

Birdlife

Lake Manyara is an amazing place for bird watchers with both resident and migratory birds. Over 400 birds have been spotted in the park.

The lake

In the lake that named the park you can watch flamingos and hippos as well as animals grazing the grass on the shores of the lake.

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Elephants often come very close to safari jeeps in Lake Manyara

Wildlife and nature

Lake Manyara is a small but beautiful national park located at the bottom of the Rift Valley, just below the 600-meter-high Rift Valley escarpment. Lake Manyara National Park is named after the lake “Lake Manyara”. Lake Manyara is said to have more elephants per square kilometer than any other park in Africa and is also famous for its tree-climbing lions. For birdwatchers, Lake Manyara is paradise!

Lake Manyara is a small park, only 330 square kilometers, of which the lake is a large part, with more forest than open savannah, and it is quite different from the other parks in northern Tanzania (Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti and Tarangire). Lake Manyara has a large elephant population and they are easy to see year-round. In the park there are more than 400 bird species and the world-famous tree-climbing lions, which you must have a great deal of luck to see. Lake Manyara is on the way from Arusha to the Ngorongoro Crater and is thus easy to visit. It is also possible to do a safari in Lake Manyara for just a few hours on the way to the Ngorongoro Crater or Serengeti.

The northern parts of Lake Manyara are dominated by dense ground water forests, home to a variety of monkeys, elephants and bushbucks, but the bushbucks can be hard to see. In the southern parts of Lake Manyara, the forest is sparse, and it is easier to see the animals such as zebra, elephant, wildebeest, antelope and lion. Along the shores of Lake Manyara there are good chances to see many bird species such as flamingo, stork and pelican. Lake Manyara is a good safari park all year round. December to May is the best time for bird watching

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Elephant on the road in the northern part of Lake Manyara

Climate

The climate in Lake Manyara is like the other parks in Tanzania with dry season June to November, short rain in November/December and long rain March to May. Lake Manyara is quite low down in the Rift Valley is and is noticeably hotter than Ngorongoro Crater and other highlands. During the warmest season, December to March, it can be very hot in Lake Manyara. The coolest period is between June and August.

Best time to visit

It is possible to visit Lake Manyara all year-round, but during the long rains (March-May) the roads can be muddy. The road is tarmacked all the way from Arusha to Lake Manyara so there is no problem getting to and from Lake Manyara during the rainy season. For those who want to experience the richest birdlife in the park, it is recommended to visit during the rainy season. During November to March, it may be very hot in Lake Manyara so if you’re having trouble coping with it, it’s best to visit the park between June and October.

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An elephant with a calf photographed from the top of Rift Valley escarpment

How to get there

The easiest and most common way to get to Lake Manyara is to drive a car from Arusha. The road is asphalted all the way and it only takes two hours. Lake Manyara is located between Arusha and Ngorongoro Crater, making it easy to combine a visit to Lake Manyara with a safari to the Ngorongoro Crater and/or Serengeti. It is also possible to fly to Lake Manyara.

Safari to Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara is possible to visit on a day trip from Arusha and it is possible to visit as part of a longer safari. Because Lake Manyara is so easily accessible, you can visit Lake Manyara in many different combinations of safari programs. If you do not have a special interest in birds or elephants, one day in the park is enough for the vast majority.

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Giraffes and flamingos in Lake Manyara

Lodges in Lake Manyara

There is only one safari lodge inside Lake Manyara national Park, the very exclusive Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Most who visit Lake Manyara stay in a lodge on top of Rift Valley Escarpment, in Karatu (near Ngorongoro Crater) or on the south-wetsrn side of Lake Manyara. Listed here are some of the safari lodges near Lake Manyara. Safari lodges in Karatu is listed on our page about Ngorongoro Crater

Lake Manyara Tree Lodge
The only safari lodge inside the park. Lake Manyara Tree Lodge is on the southern end of Lake Manyara, a part of the park that is rarely visited by tourists other than those who stay at the Tree Lodge. The lodges have rooms built on the trunks of massive baobab trees and is truly a unique experience. Do not come here late and leave the next morning. The lodge itself is part of the experience here and you need to stay at least two nights.

Maramboi Tented Camp
Maramboi is a very affordable lodge with a beautiful location on the savannah south-west of Lake Manyara with great views of the lake and the Rift Valley Escarpment. The lodge has big rooms (tents actually) built on wooden decks with private balconies overlooking the lake and the escarpment. They also have family units and is a perfect lodge if you are traveling with kids. In the common area they have a restaurant and a pool deck. The lodge arranges walking safaris down to the lake. You will see zebra, wildebeest and maybe some giraffes as well as many birds and Masais herding their cattle.

Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge
Lake Manyara Serena is a Serena property in every way. Reliable and of high standard but more of a hotel than a safari lodge. The lodge is on top of Rift Valley escarpment and the view is mind blowing. The pool is set perfectly so you get the view of Lake Manyara from the edge of the pool. Rooms are all of good standard and there are conference facilities at the lodge.

Kirurumu Manyara tented Lodge 
Kirurumu Manyara is just down the road from Serena. It is a great place with very comfortable rooms, all in tents on wooden decks, also with an amazing view over Lake Manyara. As the rooms are in tents it has more of a safari feeling to it but it is not in a wildlife area so there are basically no animals around the camp. Comfort levels are basically the same as Serena but Kirurumu does not have a pool.

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View from the pool at Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge

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Maramboi Tented Camp

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View from the main deck at Kirurumu Manyara