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This 125-square-mile (325-km2) park has the Great Rift Valley Escarpment for a dramatic backdrop and was once one of the most popular hunting areas of Tanzania. Two-thirds of the park is covered by alkaline Lake Manyara, which is situated at an altitude of 3,150 feet (960 m).
The turnoff to Lake Manyara is past Mto wa Mbu on the road from Makuyuni to Ngorongoro Crater, about 75 miles (120 km) west of Arusha.
Despite its comparatively small size, the park has five distinct vegetation zones and a remarkable diversity of wildlife. From the crest of the Rift Valley to the shores of the lake, the varied topography and soils support characteristic plants and animals. The first zone reached from the park entrance is ground-water forest that is fed by water seeping from the Rift Valley Wall, with wild fig, sausage, tamarind and mahogany trees. Elephant prefer these dense forests, as well as marshy glades. The other zones include the marshlands along the edge of the lake, scrub on the Rift Valley Wall, open areas with scattered acacia, and open grasslands.
Lake Manyara National Park is most famed for its tree-climbing lions that may be seen (if you are very lucky) sleeping amongst the branches of acacia trees. The park is situated in the Great Rift Valley where hippos abound along with the excellent bird life as well as elephant and baboon.
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