We have a variety of budget safari options for our guests. For the guest that doesn’t want to go on safari we offer day tours around our locality. Kindly contact us for more information on this.
Reasons to visit Lake Manyara
- Convenience and accessibility
After Tarangire, Manyara is the second park that one passes when heading by road from the town of Arusha towards Ngorongoro and Serengeti. The main road passes right by the only entrance gate, meaning that no diversion at all is necessary, and the park is relatively small, meaning that it can easily be sampled reasonably well in just a few hours.
- Scenery and range of habitats
Manyara is a dramatically scenic park with an unusual range of habitats and species. This is especially marked given its small size of 330 square kilometres, of which two thirds is taken up by the freshwater Lake Manyara itself.
Approaching from the southeast the road crosses open steppe, with the line of the great rift valley escarpment looming increasingly up ahead, the mountains of Ngorongoro beyond. Lake Manyara is at the foot of the rift off to the left side. As the road reaches the rift it enters the suddenly verdant and well watered areas around the small town of Mto wa Mbu, before passing the entrance to the park itself.
The main road continues past the gate and immediately ascends diagonally up the rift valley escarpment. Towards the top of this ascent broad views open out over the park. Immediately below lies the groundwater forest, leading out onto open acacia woodland down towards the lake shore. The rift escarpment itself runs off to the south, with the park quickly reducing to a thin sliver of land between the foot of the cliffs and the water. Beyond stretches the vast flat steppe, south towards Tarangire and dotted with various freestanding hills and mountains in the distance.
Although there are other more dramatic sections of the escarpment in both the Natron and Eyasi areas, nowhere else is it accompanied by such a verdant and game-rich environment. The atmosphere deep within the park, especially morning and evening, is quite magical, with wonderful views out across the flamingo covered waters.
- Groundwater forest
Back down at the foot of the escarpment is the only access gate into the park. Immediately one is plunged into the deep shade of the groundwater forest, a feature of great significance.
Although the Manyara area is very dry for much of the year, this immediate vicinity retains a permanently high water table thanks to the presence of springs at the foot of the rift escarpment. Further south in the park this water emerges hot and sodorous, but here it is cool and fresh.
The presence of this year round water supply ensures the survival of an unusually dense and verdant forest, providing both a year round habitat for a good range of resident game as well as acting like a magnet during the dry season for a broader range of migratory animals, particularly elephant.
One of the most obvious and interesting sights in the reserve are the troops of baboon which are often to be seen alongside the main access road just inside the park gate. Some of these troops contain more than one hundred individuals and are believed to be the largest in Tanzania.
When one things of the lengths to which people go in order to see gorilla and chimpanzee, it seems remarkable just how underappreciated these fellows are. As well as being usually pretty easy to find, the baboons are extremely habituated to vehicles, enabling visitors to often view them going about their business virtually undisturbed.
Baboons can be found in most other areas around the Northern Parks, but rarely with such close up sightings as can be achieved
Similarly many of the elephant that inhabit the groundwater forest are very habituated to vehicles. We remember one occasion when we had to sit very still and hold our breathe whilst a towering bull lowered his trunk into the roof hatch of our Landrover and sniffed around in our hair for something to eat, before rubbing his rear end up against our bullbars and sauntering off!
Compared with some safari areas, elephant can be relatively few and far between on a safari through Ngorongoro and Serengeti, making a visit to either or both of Tarangire and Manyara a pretty important component. Tarangire tends to win out most of the year, but December to June elephant viewing can actually be better here.
- Tree climbing lion
Top of the bill in most reviews of the park are the famous tree climbing lions.
In some seasons and at certain times of the year lion can be seriously bothered by biting flies, which they sometimes try to avoid by climbing convenient acacias. This happens not only in Manyara, but also in Serengeti and, to a greater or lesser extent, in many other reserves across Africa.
The chances of spotting this relatively unusual behaviour is relatively slight, not to be shunned if the opportunity presents, but for most people it is probably not worth making any serious diversion from other more reliable plans.
- Lower cost
The vehicle element of most road safaris into this region is usually charged on a kilometre rate. Because Manyara is close to Arusha its inclusion usually incurs significantly lower mileage than a visit to a more remote area.
Being so small, the park is easily accessed from lodges outside the reserve. There are several relatively low cost options around the park gate and on top of the adjacent escarpment, although the quality and reliability of some of them is rather questionable.
More budget oriented safari operators often distort their safaris to include lower cost areas, which means that Manyara tends to more often feature in a budget trip than it does in a mid or upper end safari.
- Night vehicle safari
Guests at the very high end Manyara Tree Camp in the deep south of the park are able to enjoy vehicle into the evening at an additional cost. Reported highlights include lion, leopard, hunting dog, hyena, hippo out of the water, porcupine, bushbaby and genet, although we expect that the frequency of sightings of the larger predators would be quite few and far between.
- Engaruka ruins
Set at the foot of the rift escarpment to the north of Manyara lie the remains of a substantial farming settlement, thought to date back to the late iron age, over 500 years ago. No one knows quite who was responsible for its construction, but it is estimated that at its height is supported a population in excess of 30,000 people, which makes it highly important in the context of East African prehistory. It is thought that it was the arrival of the Maasai into the area which was responsible for its demise.