Situated on the Western escarpment of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park offers a wilderness experience in diverse habitats. From its Rift Valley soda lake, which attracts thousands and pink flamingos, to dense woodlands and steep mountainsides, it's well known for tree-climbing lions and one of Africa's highest concentrations of elephants.
Ernest Hemingway described Lake Manyara National Park as the 'loveliest I had seen in Africa', and it's not hard to see why. The lake takes up most of the park, so whilst it might be the smallest of the four parks on the Northern Circuit, Manyara is also the prettiest, well known for its natural beauty and fabled tree-climbing lions. Located on the road from Arusha to the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, Lake Manyara National Park tends to be a stop off en route to its two bigger sisters.
Lake Manyara National Park is home to a diverse ecosystem, including its eponymous soda lake, acacia woodland, equatorial forest, several types of savannah, and stunning moutainsides. Whilst the concentrations of game here are not nearly as high as the Ngorongoro and Serengeti, the lake itself provides a habitat for hundreds of bird species. Between November and April, thousands of greater and lesser pink flamingos gather on its shores, together with pink-backed pelicans, yellow-billed storks, grey herons and pods of hippo. Large herds of buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and impala roam the lake shores and the forested valley slopes. The park is also known for its vast elephant herds and huge number of baboons.
However, it's most famous for its unusual tree-climbing lions, a phenomenon that has baffled scientists. Witnessing a pride navigate the branches of an acacia tree, before lazily resting in a quiet spot, is an unforgettable experience.
Day time game drives are the main activity here although more recently the park has started to offer night safaris. Camps deep inside the park offer short walking safaris. Visitors can also visit the Maji Moto hot springs to soak in the warm, clear water under the shade of leafy trees.