When it comes to Tanzania, there is no dearth of wildlife spotting opportunities. The national parks abound the landscape, they are filled with exotic animals we read about but rarely get to witness in close quarters and the stay is unforgettable. One of the smaller parks is the Lake Manyara National park. It gets its name from the massive Lake that dominates most of the park’s land. One of the highlights of the park is its proximity to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. It doesn’t get richer or better than this combination in the Northern Safari circle.
While the park may be smallish in size, it does not lack in beauty of every kind. For example, there’s the wide range of ecological diversity. The range is massive. There’s density and lightness here. Whether it’s the hot springs, or the floodplains, the cliffs with the baobab trees or the forests, you’re likely to traverse through so many different types of vegetation on your day trip. To be surrounded by mahogany trees that seem to reach the heavens and the massive fig trees will only make one feel a sense of awe and respect. The plains are grassy and filled with animals happy to find food, the Steppes have volcanic peaks that dwarf everything in sight and the acacia woodland gives us one delightful vision- tree-climbing lions.
Indeed, when it comes to looking at animals at this park, you’ll be unable to make up your mind which direction to look! The athletic lions, baboon, mongoose, huge herds of elephants, the small dik-dik, the iconic wildebeest, the ubiquitous hippo and the buffalo- can all be spotted there. If you’re really lucky you can see some leopards but they aren’t always visible.
Spend an entire day in the park and take in as many of the 400 species of birds as you can find. The flamingo, spoonbill, sacred ibis, long-crested eagle and the cormorants are just some of the feathered species that call the lake their home. No wonder that this national park is a magnet for serious ornithologists. You can easily spend hours just looking at this spectacular sight in front of you.
One of the special features of the lake is its location- it is set in the East African Rift system, also known as the Great Rift Valley. This region offers some of the most spectacular sights known to mankind- lakes, of course, but also hot springs and geysers. This area is also essential because of its link to the evolution of human beings. This makes it an interesting place for budding anthropologists too.
The Manyara Lake is called a shallow Rift Valley lake and it dominates this entire park. It’s a soda lake, called that because of the high alkaline content of its water. It floods during rains and dries up during the summers, but it is essentially the backbone of the park. The park, established in 1960, is a biosphere reserve and is formed like a loop- you enter and leave from the same gate- making it perfect for a day trip.