Things to do - general

160km (99 miles) from Arusha, 69km (43 miles) from Tarangire, 60km (37 miles) from Ngorongoro, 145km (90 miles) from Serengeti (entrance gate)

Curling along the western shores of a shallow soda lake, the emergence of the Gregory Escarpment — a sheer 500m (1,640-ft.) drop, making this the most impressive wall in the Rift Valley — signals your approach to Lake Manyara, heart of Tanzania’s second-oldest national park. A shallow 390-sq.-km (152-sq.-mile) expanse, of which 230 sq. km (90 sq. miles) fall within the national park boundaries, Lake Manyara lies in a closed basin with no outlet. Fed by waters that percolate through the volcanic ash and lava of the Ngorongoro Highlands before seeping and spilling from the ever-eroding walls of the Rift Valley, the lake is highly alkaline, its chemical salts further distilled by the high rate of evaporation — hence the tell-tale crusty white soda deposits that line the lake’s shores during the dry season. The ideal breeding ground for blue-green algae and other micro-organisms, the lake is thus a nutrient-rich home to large numbers of fish (including an endemic species of tilapia), which, in turn, attract an astonishing variety of waterbirds. Of these, the most spectacular visitors are the migrant flamingos, who hover like pink clouds in and above the blue-gray bands of Manyara’s lakeshore.


Country Tanzania
Languages spoken English/Swahili
Currency US Dollar

Sports and nature

Sports and nature Despite the fact that the lake covers two-thirds of the park, the slim wedge of land between the shore and the baobab-studded escarpment wall offers a remarkably varied ecosystem: Visitors enter the lush groundwater forest in the north, crossing rivers and pools to traverse stretches of acacia woodland and bushland, and finally emerge to sweeping views of floodplain grasslands, its thin strips of yellow and green blending into a soaring skyline.


Nightlife This is a shame: not only does Manyara make a convenient first stop out of Arusha, but its remarkable habitat diversity compressed within a relatively small area ensures that it offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience.

Culture and history

Culture & history Established in 1960, Lake Manyara National Park extends over 330 sq km of the northern Rift Valley floor southwest of Arusha. Its centrepiece is Lake Manyara, a fluctuating body of alkaline water set within a shallow sump at the base of the Rift Valley. To the southeast, a scattering of extinct volcanoes rise in splendid isolation from the open plains of the Maasai Steppes. To the west, the lake is hemmed in by the 600m-high golden-brown rift escarpment alluded to in its name – an emanyara being the spiky protective hedge grown around a Maasai boma. Manyara’s dramatic setting was once extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest that I had seen in Africa” and by documentary maker Colin Willock as “the most luxuriant place in the whole East African Rift”. Today, however, the park is frequently bypassed by safarigoers in their enthusiasm to reach the world-renowned Serengeti and Ngorongoro.

Unfortunately there are no self-catering offers at this location at the moment.

Unfortunately there are no tour offers at this location at the moment.