Lake Manyara National Park is a protected area in Tanzania’s Arusha and Manyara Regions, situated between Lake Manyara and the Great Rift Valley. It is administered by the Tanzania National Parks Authority, and covers an area of 325 km2 (125 sq mi) including about 230 km2 (89 sq mi) lake surface. More than 350 bird species have been observed on the lake.
Since the 1920s, Lake Manyara area was used for sports hunting. In 1957, a game reserve was established. In 1960, it was given National Park status and in 1974 about 550 ha (1,400 acres) were added to the southern end. The majority of the land area of the park is a narrow strip running between the Gregory Rift wall to the west and Lake Manyara, an alkaline lake, to the east. The national park only includes the northwest quadrant of the lake, about 200 km2 (77 sq mi). It is part of the much larger Lake Manyara Biosphere Reserve, established in 1981 by UNESCO as part of its Man and the Biosphere Programme.
The rainfall pattern of the park is bi-modal with short rains starting from November to December and long rains from February to May, dry season is from late June to October, annual mean temperature is 26.50C, average temperature 11.340C and relative humidity ranges from 45% – 85%. There are two rainy seasons – “short rains” from November to December and the “long rains” from March to May. The wettest month (with the highest rainfall) is April (161 mm (6.3 in) and it also has the highest number of rainy days (19 days). The driest months (with the lowest rainfall) are July, August and September (1 mm (0.039 in). September also has the lowest average number of rainy days (2 days). The warmest months (with the highest average high temperature) are January, February and March, averaging 30 °C (86 °F). Months with the lowest average high temperature are June and July, averaging 25 °C (77 °F). The adjacent highlands tend to be cooler with more rainfall.
Lake Manyara National Park is located 126 km (78 mi) south west of Arusha and can be reached by car in an hour and a half. The park can also be reached from Babati the capital of Manyara Region. Lake Manyara Airport is nearby. To the south, situated on the escarpment above the park, is the 35,399 ha Marang Forest Reserve. To the east is the Kwa Kuchinja Wildlife Migration corridor, which allows wildlife to migrate between the near-by Tarangire National Park to the southeast, Lake Manyara to the west, and the Engaruka Basin to the north. Within the Kwa Kuchinja corridor are several villages.
Lake Manyara National Park is known for flocks of thousands flamingos that feed along the edge of the lake in the wet season. The flora of Lake Manyara National Park is diverse, with over 670 flowering plant and fern species documented. Most are widespread species; there are few rare or endemic species.
The park has a variety of diverse habitats. Rivers flowing off the escarpment and perennial springs below the rift wall support tall, evergreen groundwater forests dominated by Trichilia roka with Broad-Leaved Croton (Croton macrostachyus), sycamore fig (Ficus sycomorus), quinine tree (Rauvolfia caffra) and forest toad-tree (Tabernaemontana ventricosa).
Woodlands on the western shore of the lake dominated by Acacia and Commiphora species are also supported by groundwater. Trees are spaced irregularly; densest in zones of seepage and along drainage channels. The dominant tree, Acacia tortilis, grows to about 10m tall with a flat-topped canopy.
Populations of large migratory mammals that are concentrated primarily in Tarangire National Park, but also move through Lake Manyara National Park include wildebeest, zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and Grant’s gazelle. Large herds of wildebeest and other plains game from the Mto wa Mbu Game Controlled Area enter the park from the north for short periods
Inside the park:
Camping:There are three types of campsites namely:
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge:
Outside the Park:
WHEN TO VISIT
Best time to visit:
The park can be accessed throughout the year. However June to October is the best time for large mammals and November to July is ideal time for bird watching.