The quote from Ernest Hemingway, “the loveliest I had seen in Africa, says much about the gorgeous Lake Manyara National Park. Set alongside the 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, this reserve in Tanzania features a huge alkaline lake during the wet season and, most unusual, lions that like to climb trees!
The lions in the Lake Manyara National Park simply have to be mentioned first! Lake Manyara is not the only national park that sports lions climbing trees, but is only one of a couple in Africa where they do. Lions don’t normally go up trees for any reason, but in some places they seem to have developed this skill. One theory that Scientists believe is that they may have done this to avoid a biting fly species that were killing them back in the 1960’s. Each generation of lion that followed would have simply copied the habit from their parents and therefore continued the ‘tradition. So, when in Lake Manyara National Park, remember to look for lions on the ground and up in the branches of the trees! Perhaps you will even get a lovely photo of this strange phenomenon.
Just like in many of the larger national parks, the wildlife at Lake Manyara is simply spectacular. The park supports an amazing eleven different ecosystems, ranging from marshes to evergreen forests, and is therefore the ideal location for a diverse range of animal species. In fact, Lake Manyara National Park has one of the highest densities of large mammals on the planet, including elephant, zebra, giraffe, hippo, wildebeest and buffalo. Large numbers of baboons are also almost always seen, sometimes as soon as upon entering the gates to the park. Impala, waterbuck, the Sykes monkey, Egyptian mongoose, klipspringer and Cape clawless otter are just a few of the other animals that you may well see whilst visiting the park.
The huge alkaline or soda-lake that covers approximately a third of the entire national park is another particularly interesting aspect of the Lake Manyara National Park.
Lake Manyara is 200 square kilometers during the rainy season, which is between November and June. However, for the remaining part of the year, the area receives less rain and the lake therefore shrinks considerably in size. When the lake is high you can enjoy spectacular sights of pelicans and flamingos, as well as numerous other bird species, including herons, spoonbills and egrets. Since there is so much water around, even the surrounding forest areas are filled with all sorts of lovely birds. Canoeing is naturally a very popular activity at Manyara when the water level is high enough. Sliding gracefully and peacefully along the waters is a considerably enjoyable way to view wildlife and to take in the breathtakingly beautiful scenery.
While the Lake Manyara National Park is often visited only quickly by travellers on their way to or from the Ngorongoro Crater, we feel that it is a park that is definitely worth more time. To really see all that it has to offer at least a full day’s safari is recommended, while a stay for a few nights is even better.