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Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania

Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smaller parks of the Northern Circuit in Tanzania. The foresty park is filled with colourful birds, curious monkeys and many other animals hidden amongst the trees. It’s most famous for its tree-climbing lions and large flocks of pink flamingo’s.

The national park is named after the lake; Lake Manyara, which makes up the majority of the park. The lake covers an area of about 230 km2 (89 sq mi) of the total of 325 km2 (125 sq mi).

Even though the park is small, it has an interesting variety of diverse landscapes. From thick woodlands and groundwater forests to extensive swamps where hippo’s love to feast day and night. Compared to the other national parks in the area, Lake Manyara National Park is by far the greenest of them all. 

Lake Manyara is located near the Great Rift Valley, an impressive crack in the earth’s crust that originated 22-25 million years ago.  The 400 meters deep Rift Valley Escarpment stretches for thousands of Kilometers across East-Africa. The Valley creates the unique habitat that supports the thick forestation of the surrounding areas. 

Lake Manyara National Park Highlights

Lake Manyara National Park is a popular safari destination in Tanzania. The jungly forests offer a nice change compared to the dry, stretched out savannah that make up the majority of the national parks.

Lake Manyara is often used as a pit-stop park for tourists that embark on a longer safari to Serengeti National park and the Ngorongoro Crater, but it’s surely worth a visit on its own! 

Lake Manyara Hippo Pool

Just 10 minutes into Lake Manyara National Park, you might encounter large groups of Hippo’s feasting off the nutritious swamps. The hippo pool is one of Lake Manyara’s highlights and a reason the national park is on many people’s bucket lists.

The hippo’s usually stay in their pools from dusk till dawn, so if love to see some hippo’s, visiting Lake Manyara National Park is a solid choice. During daytime, when it’s too hot for the hippo’s to come out, you may find them rolling around, snapping their huge mouths at eachother and doing other typical hippo stuff.


The Flamingos and the Alkaline Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara is famous for its numerous pink flamingoes, that feast here during the wet seasons (November-December and March-May), when the normally shallow lake is at its highest.

During this season, the lake’s high alkaline waters attract a variety of migratory waterbirds, including huge flocks of pink flamingos as well as pelicans, storks and cormorants. At this time, the lake can cover up to 60% of the park’s total area. During the dry seasons however, the lake can dry up considerably, decreasing in size.

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Lake Manyara National Park: Best time to visit

Lake Manyara National Park is considered to be a year-round safari destination. The best time for you to visit, depends on if you’re more into gameviewing or birdwatching.

The pink flamingoes and other migratory waterbirds are one of the highlights of Lake Manyara National Park, but aren’t present year-round. The best time to experience the birds will be in the wet seasons (November-December and March-May). This is when the migratory birds arrive.

However, if you prefer to spot game, the best time to visit would be in the dry season, between June and October. This is the dryest period of the year, making them significantly easier to spot in the normally thick, jungly forests.

Wildlife of Lake Manyara National Park

A short list of the ‘most wanted’ animals in Lake Manyara National Park and the chances of spotting them. Some animals are (almost) unique to each park or only appear in certain areas. It’s important to let us know your wildlife preferences, so we can give you the best chance of spotting your favorite animal. 

The percentages are an estimation of how often we’ve seen these animals ourselves based on our visits. Some animals we’ve seen 100%, everytime we’ve visited. However, it’s not a zoo, so there’s always a chance you miss an animal.

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Leopardhard to spot
Crocodileonly northern Serengeti
Wild Dogvery rare

Climate & Seasons

Lake Manyara National Park’s climate is mild and temperate, like most parks in the northern regions. Average temperatures are consistent throughout the year. Temperatures during the day are pleasantly hot and the evenings nice and cool. Taking warm clothing along on early morning game drives is recommended.

Activities in Lake Manyara National Park

There’s loads of amazing excursions and activities to choose from when paying a visit to Lake Manyara National Park. Cultural experiences, visiting the nearby town of Mto wa Mbu or beautiful cycling around the green surroundings of Lake Manyara are certainly one of the most popular ones. 

For example:

  • Canopy Walk
  • Mto wa Mby Cultural Tour
  • Mountainbike tour
  • Kanoeing on Lake Manyara
  • Visit the Maasai Tribe
  • Visit the Hadzabe Tribe
  • Night game drive
  • Enjoy a day of cooking with the local mama’s

Lake Manyara National Park: Where to Stay?

Lake Manyara Accommodation

Below are some of our favorite accommodations in/near Lake Manyara National Park. Stay in Lake Manyara, Karatu or the little town of Mto Wa Mbu.

There are loads of options available in multiple price ranges. There’s a perfect accommodation for all kinds of travelers!

We select our accommodations on a few criteria that guarantee the best possible experience. Some of these criteria are most scenic views, unique (efficient) and adventurous locations and of course the wildlife-experience! 

Of course there’s also the option of camping, which isn’t mentioned in the accommodations listed down below. 

View all of our accommodations (including many more unlisted)

    Migombani Campsite (Mto wa Mbu)

    Migombani campsite lies in Mto wa Mbu. It's a small, eco-friendly campsite and lies on top of a hill, providing stunning views of Lake Manyara. […]

    Sunbright Lodge (Mto wa Mbu)

    Sunbright lodge is a simple, well located tented lodge and campsite. It lies in the green town of Mto wa Mbu, near Lake Manyara national […]

    Manyara’s Secret

    Manyara's Secret is an eye pleasingly beautiful lodge in Mto wa mbu, Tanzania. In this small-scale exclusive lodge, you can expect exceptional service and personal […]

    Lake Manyara Kilimamoja Lodge

    Lake Manyara Kilimamoja Lodge is situated 10 km from Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania. This lodge offers 50 Deluxe Rooms and 2 Bedroom Luxury Villas, […]

    Africa Safari Lake Manyara

    In between the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara is where you will find the luxury accommodation "Africa Safari Lake Manyara". Scattered over a large area […]

    Rift Valley Photographic Lodge (Lake Manyara)

    The rift valley photographic lodge is is designed according to the circular motif of a traditional Masai village, offering a real African experience. The main […]

Driving Time & Distances

  • Driving from Arusha to Lake Manyara National Park will take about 2,5 hours.
  • Driving from Ngorongoro to Lake Manyara takes about 1 hour.
  • Driving from Serengeti to Lake Manyara takes about 3,5 hours.
  • Driving from Tarangire to Lake Manyara takes about 1 hour. 
  • Driving from Moshi to Lake Manyara NP takes between 3,5-4,5  hours depending on the current traffic situation.

Note that you’re only allowed to drive in the parks between 6am and 6pm. 

Safaris visiting Lake Manyara National Park

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