Lake Manyara National Park


Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake   Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”.

The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari  experience.

From the entrance gate, the  road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where  hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue  monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck  tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk  cacophonously in the high canopy.

Contrasting with the intimacy  of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across  the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless  Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these  grassy plains, as do giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to  be black from a distance.

Inland of the floodplain, a  narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favoured haunt of Manyara’s legendary  tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Squadrons of banded  mongoose dart between the acacias, while the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages  in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks  above a field of searing hot    springs that  steams and bubbles adjacent to the lakeshore in the far south of the park.

Manyara provides the perfect  introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded,  and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in  one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual  migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and  storks.

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