African Safari – Lake Manyara National Park

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The entrance gate to Lake Manyara National Park.

When we visited Tanzania last year, we were very fortunate to be able to go on safari and see some absolutely amazing things.  I don’t think it is possible to truly understand how amazing safari in Africa is until you experience it yourself.  Seeing some of this world’s most amazing animals in their natural habitat.

The first national park that we visited while on safari was Lake Manyara National Park.  This 127 square mile park is about a 2 hour drive from Arusha and is home to a lot of Africa’s wildlife diversity.

Getting to Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park is located in Northern Tanzania, just Southwest of the Ngorongoro Crater National Conservation Area.  It is about a 2 hour drive from the major city of Arusha.  If you are planning a visit to Lake Manyara National Park, you will likely want to fly into Arusha.  The airport in Arusha is where most of the safari companies that service Lake Manyara National Park will pick you up upon arrival.

We used Tanzania Choice Safaris for our safari and we absolutely loved them.  We have relatives who lived in country and had used them on multiple occasions and had a lot of really great things to say about them.  They were very courteous, well organized, and extremely knowledgeable about the parks and the wildlife.  We would absolutely recommend them for anyone considering a safari in any of the national parks in Tanzania.

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Map of the National Parks in Tanzania.

Not surprisingly, the main feature of Lake Manyara National Park is Lake Manyara.  The lake rests up against the western boundary of the park, with the rift valley on much of the park’s eastern boundary.  There are a lot of open spaces around the lake where you can find zebra, wildebeest, antelope, buffalo, and other grazers feeding.  In Lake Manyara, it is very common to see hippos avoiding the heat during the day.

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Map of Lake Manyara National Park.

Best Time to Visit

If you are planning to visit Lake Manyara National Park, you are going to want to plan your visit for the optimal time of year to see the animals and avoid bad weather.  The best time to visit the park is between June and October, as the animals are easier to spot and the weather is typically better.  Conversely, you will want to avoid visiting during the months of March thru May, as this is when the worst weather typically occurs and the animals are typically seeking shelter.

Lake Manyara Best Times to Visit

June thru October

  • Animals are easier to spot as the vegetation isn’t as thick and the animals are typically congregated by the water sources.
  • There is typically a lot of sun and very little rain.
  • Because the weather isn’t as wet, malaria carrying mosquitoes are less prevalent.
  • You will want to dress warmly as the mornings can be cold at this time of year.

November thru May

  • The park is at its greenest and most lush.
  • It is typically the least crowded in April and May, which is the park’s low season.
  • Bird watching is best as the migratory birds are visiting the park at this time.
  • There may be a lot of mud on the roads because of heavy rains.
  • March is the height of the rainy season.

The Wildlife

There is an abundance of amazing wildlife within Lake Manyara National Park.  We saw a ton of animals from the moment we first drove into the park.  The animals that can be found in the park include the following:

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The animals that can be found in Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park is famous for its tree climbing lions.  While all lions can climb trees, most often they prefer not to as their size doesn’t make them as effective of climbers as leopards.  However, in Lake Manyara National Park, the lions have grown accustomed to climbing trees and whole prides can be seen resting in the trees.

We didn’t get to see the famous tree climbing lions while on safari, but our safari guide told us some really amazing stories about driving right up to trees without realizing there were lions in them.  So if you decide to visit Lake Manyara National Park on safari, make sure you keep an eye out for the famous tree climbing lions.

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One of the famous tree climbing lions that Lake Manyara National Park is famous for.

One of the more amazing wildlife encounters we had while visiting the park was spotting a bull elephant feeding by the side of the road.  He heard us coming, so we didn’t startle him.  That is important because elephants can be dangerous if startled or if they feel threatened.  As we approached, we came closer to have a look at us.  They are such amazing animals.

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A bull elephant we met in Lake Manyara National Park.

We also got to see quite a few giraffes while on safari in Lake Manyara National Park.  It is absolutely amazing to see them feeding in their natural habitat.  They are such peaceful and amazing animals.  Every so often, they would take a momentary reprieve from feeding to glance over at us to see what we were up to.

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A giraffe takes a break from eating to check us out in Lake Manyara National Park.

On Safari in Lake Manyara National Park

We absolutely loved our time in Lake Manyara National Park.  If you are interested in seeing what it is like to go on safari in this beautiful park, check out the video of our adventure below.

Photo Gallery

Lake Manyara National Park was such a magical place to visit.  Being able to see such amazing wildlife in their natural habitat was an experience of a lifetime.  Below are some of the amazing pictures we were able to get while on safari.

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