Lake Manyara National Park

LAKE MANYARA, Tanzania — Lake Manyara is really two lakes. Well, it is depending on the time of year you visit. In the dry season, with the water level low, it basically splits in two.

Lake Manyara National Park Elephant
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Filed Under: Tanzania

Lake Manyara is really two lakes. Well, it is depending on the time of year you visit. In the dry season, with the water level low, it basically splits in two.

The northern end, where the Simba River feeds in, is swampy with fresh(-ish) water. There are reeds, plants, and lots of wildlife. Hippos soak in the muddy water, and zebras, wildebeests, and impala graze.

The other end looks very different: a vast, flat, featureless plain from the alkaline water. Lake Manyara is, after all, basically a salt lake (or, more properly, a soda lake). The grass, such that there is, is low. Only a few giraffes and wildebeests wander through the hazy heat.

Ernest Hemingway called Lake Manyara “the loveliest [lake] … in Africa.”

The National Park, which is relatively small compared with the nearby Tarangire National Park and very different from Ngorongoro Crater, also nearby, is famous for its climbing lions and troops of baboons. You’ll see plenty of baboons, although the lions are harder to catch a glimpse of (as are the leopards). And the thick jungle near the park entrance is the ideal habitat for blue monkeys and hundreds of varieties of birds.

Photos of Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park Elevated View
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — A view out over Lake Manyara National Park from an elevated point just outside the park. At right, on the top of the headland, is one of the luxury resorts.
Lake Manyara National Park Blue Monkey
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — A Blue Monkey.
Lake Manyara National Park Creek
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania – A creek at Lake Manyara National Park in northern Tanzania.
Lake Manyara National Park Solitary Giraffe
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — A solitary giraffe wanders along the edge of the lake.
Lake Manyara National Park Baboons
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — A troop of baboons on a dirt road at Lake Manyara National Park in northern Tanzania.
Lake Manyara National Park Dirt Road
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — A dirt road through the scrub at Lake Manyara National Park in northern Tanzania.
Lake Manyara National Park Do Not Feed Animals
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — Good advice.
Lake Manyara National Park View
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — A partly elevated view of Lake Manyara National Park, with a tree in the foreground at the right of the frame and the low, flat bush of the park in the background.
Lake Manyara National Park Elephant
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — The elephant had wandered over to take a closer look (while the truck was stopped).
Lake Manyara National Park Silvery-cheeked Hornbill on a Tree
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — A Silvery-cheeked Hornbill (Bycanistes brevis) perched on a tree at Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania.
Lake Manyara National Park Scenery
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — A view of Lake Manyara National Park from a partially elevated viewpoint, looking out over the flat bush.
Lake Manyara National Park Three Giraffes
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania – Three giraffes walking at Lake Manyara National Park in northern Tanzania. The semi-dry salt lake is visible in the distance.
Lake Manyara National Park Tourists Watching Giraffes
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania – Tourists in a pop-up top safari vehicle watch a group of giraffes walking by in the disance at Lake Manyara National Park in northern Tanzania.
Lake Manyara National Park Two Giraffes
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania – Two giraffes walk through the bush of Lake Manyara National Park in northern Tanzania.
Lake Manyara National Park Silvery-cheeked Hornbill
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania – A Silvery-cheeked Hornbill (Bycanistes brevis) perched on a branch at Lake Manyara National Park in northern Tanzania.

More About Lake Manyara National Park

  • Lake Manyara National Park is located in northern Tanzania, within the Great Rift Valley.
  • The park covers an area of 325 square kilometers (125 square miles), with approximately two-thirds of the park covered by Lake Manyara.
  • The park is home to diverse ecosystems, including grassy floodplains, acacia woodlands, and evergreen forests.
  • Wildlife in the park includes elephants, giraffes, hippos, wildebeest, impalas, and over 400 bird species.
  • Lake Manyara National Park is known for its tree-climbing lions, a rare behavior observed among these big cats.
  • The park is also home to thousands of flamingos, which gather around the alkaline lake.

Lake Manyara National Park, situated in northern Tanzania within the Great Rift Valley, is a unique and diverse ecosystem spanning 325 square kilometers (125 square miles). Approximately two-thirds of the park is covered by Lake Manyara, which attracts a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, hippos, wildebeest, and impalas. Additionally, the park is home to over 400 bird species, making it an excellent destination for birdwatching enthusiasts.

The park is particularly known for its tree-climbing lions, a rare behavior observed among these big cats. Thousands of flamingos also inhabit the park, gathering around the alkaline lake, creating a stunning visual spectacle. Lake Manyara National Park offers visitors the opportunity to explore its diverse landscapes and observe its abundant wildlife through guided game drives, walking safaris, and birdwatching tours.

What’s Nearby to Lake Manyara National Park

How to Get to Lake Manyara National Park

  • Lake Manyara National Park is located in northern Tanzania.
  • The nearest major airport is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), approximately 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the park.
  • Arusha, the closest city, is approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) away and serves as a transportation hub for visitors to the park.
  • From Arusha, visitors can arrange transportation to the park through private tour operators or rent a vehicle for a self-drive safari.

Lake Manyara National Park FAQs

Where is Lake Manyara National Park located?

Lake Manyara National Park is located in northern Tanzania, within the Great Rift Valley. The park is approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from the city of Arusha.

How big is Lake Manyara National Park?

Lake Manyara National Park covers an area of 325 square kilometers (125 square miles), with about two-thirds of the park covered by Lake Manyara.

What wildlife can I see in Lake Manyara National Park?

Lake Manyara National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, hippos, wildebeest, impalas, and tree-climbing lions. The park also boasts over 400 bird species, including thousands of flamingos that gather around the alkaline lake.

What activities are available at Lake Manyara National Park?

Visitors to Lake Manyara National Park can enjoy guided game drives, walking safaris, and birdwatching tours to explore the diverse landscapes and observe the abundant wildlife.

What is the nearest airport to Lake Manyara National Park?

The nearest major airport to Lake Manyara National Park is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is approximately 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the park.

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David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »