Lake Manyara National Park was set up in 1960, primarily to act as a safe haven for elephants. Today, the park boasts some of the largest herds of elephants seen anywhere in the world. It is a biosphere reserve and works to foster better relationships between people and their surroundings, using science.
The park lies smack in the wildlife corridor of Kwakuchinja. This allows animals to move between parks, including the Engaruku Basin and the Tarangire National Park. The chances to see a whole lot of animals is thus increased even further.
If you really want to see animals, head to the Manyara Ranch Conservancy. This place does important work- it’s both a tourist spot and a place of learning. This 35000 acre space has many animals that traipse through its land, among them the elephant, leopard, kudu and buffalo. In fact, while many want to see the kudu, it can be quite elusive. In the Conservancy though, you can spot it quite easily.
One of the aspects that visitors love to get a sight of is the tree-climbing lion. It would appear that lions are not meant to climb trees and sit on top of branches. And yet, these lions do just that, making this an iconic sight. They love climbing giant fig trees, among others. Various reports now seem to suggest that we have more of this in Serengeti, but when it comes to game, it is very hard to say when we might or might not see something.
The park is also home to the majestic giraffe, hippos, baboons and impalas. Like the elephants, the baboon troops are huge- the biggest in the continent. Waterbuck, warthog and zebras can also be spotted along with the very African Kirk’s dik-dik and klipspringer- both are types of antelopes.
While animals are a draw in most national parks in this region, it’s the birds that are the true show-stoppers here. More than 400 birds make the Manyara National Park their home, depending on their migratory patterns. You’ll surely spot plenty of pink flamingos, grey-headed kingfisher, white-faced duck, cormorants, long-crested eagle, hornbill, pelicans, Egyptian goose, spoonbill, storks, and sacred ibis, among many others water and migratory birds. No wonder the Park is so popular with birdwatchers.
Plan your visit well in advance so you can take advantage of great flight prices and reliable tour operators. Depending on what you are most excited about, choose the time of your visit. For birds, be there during the rainy season that stretches from November to June. The animals are better spotted during the dry period because they look for water and food. That season is from July to October.
The diversity of the park surely lies in the ecological disparate zones it possesses. Imagine being able to see dense forests, volcanic rocks, grassy plains, flood plains, mud flats and acacia woodland in just 330 kilometres! This makes the choice of what you want to see quite vast. The sheer difference in habitat means that each zone is unique- for flora and fauna, animals and birds.