Lake Manyara National Park
Location and How to Get There
Lake Manyara is a scenic gem with the eastern and western escarpments of the Rift Valley surrounding it. It takes about a 2 hours (130km/75miles) drive from Arusha to Lake Manyara on well-paved roads. From Arusha airport (ARK) it takes 20 minutes by plane or a 45 minutes flight from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). From Lake Manyara, it takes about 1.5 hours to drive to Ngorongoro Crater, requiring an exciting drive up the Rift Valley’s western escarpment.
Manyara is 250 sq miles (330 Kms²) of which one-third is land (22 sq miles / 100 Kms²) the remainder being part of Lake Manyara. It is Tanzania’s third smallest National Park)
Wildlife and Natural Highlights
The national park is known for its resident forest that is fed by an underground water forest, keeping the park green throughout the year. This attracts both migratory and wetland birds. Two-thirds of the lake is dominated by shallow alkaline-saline soda waters. These unique waters are formed by Rift Valley heat causing rapid evaporation of Manyara’s waters, leaving high concentrations of saline (salt) and sodium carbonate. This creates an ideal environment for the microorganism cyan bacteria to thrive, which produces blue-green benthic algae. This attracts flamingos that feed on it. Whereas these caustic waters that can reach Ph levels of 9, too toxic for most other creatures, the flamingos have adapted to it and the benthic algae provide a year round food source for them. Manyara National Park’s most common species, in addition to flamingos, are large troops of baboons, blue / syke monkeys, vervet monkeys, tree climbing lions, kudus, buffalos, giraffes, hippos, wildebeest, zebras, elephants, impalas, Grant and Thomson gazelles, lions, cheetahs, warthogs, leopards, hyrax, elands, bush backs, waterbucks, and dikdiks.
Mto Wa Mbu is the town near to the national park with a population of 18,000 people from 85 different tribes. This makes it one of the most culturally rich towns in Africa. This cultural confluence makes it a center for a variety of multicultural activities. Mto Wa Mbu village walks, mountain bike rides, forest walks on the Rift Valley western escarpment, bicycling around the lake and to waterfalls for the well fit, canoeing, and touring a local brewery. Apart from game drive, Manyara NP offers walking safari inside the park and night game drives.