Lake Manyara, a large, shallow, soda lake, is dramatically situated at the foot of the western escarpment of the Rift Valley. The National Park, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, occupies its northwest corner; though one of the smaller parks - the road through it is only about 40 km (25 mi) long - it enjoys diverse vegetation, which provides a variety of habitats.
The wildlife species are not as numerous as in better known parks (though this is home to the elusive tree-climbing lion), but the birdlife is a huge attraction, particularly flamingoes, which visit the lake in millions during the wet season. Early morning is the best time to arrive, to catch the game drive. It is very peaceful, with more chance of spotting animals. The safari trips visit in the afternoons, when the Park can be crowded. The road runs the length of the park through marsh, savannah and acacia woodlands and close to the steep escarpment wall, where a variety of trees grow. It passes two sulphur springs, and ends.
Tracks and loops off the main road, lead to different habitats – the lake, plains where buffalo, zebra and impala graze, and a pool which is home to hippo and flamingoes. There are camps inside the Park, and the village of Mto wa Mbu just to the north has accommodation. Travellers who arrive by bus may rent 4x4s from the tourist hotels here.
WHEN TO GO
June to February (December to April for birding)
TIME IT TAKES
One day plus
Elephants - their numbers have decreased, but they are relaxed around vehicles.
Hippos - it is possible to observe them at quite close range.
Flamingoes - during the rains, the lake can look rosy pink from a distance.
Tree-climbing lions are rarely seen; stop in the acacia woodlands and sit very still…
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Walking is not allowed in the Park.