When is the best time to visit the Lake Manyara National Park?
For animal viewing:
The best time to visit Lake Manyara National Park for game viewing is in the Dry season, from June to October. The reason for this is that the vegetation is less dense and animals tend to be attracted to the water sources. During the Wet season, from November to May, the park is lush and green and the spectacular Great Rift Wall that dominates the park is at its best. The roads can sometimes become slippery and difficult to negotiate.
For bird watching:
The best time to visit Lake Manyara National Park for birding is in April & May. In the woodlands around the lake, migratory colonies of pelicans, storks, spoonbills and cormorants gather at this time of the year. The lesser flamingos can be found in the shallows of the lake. Raptors are also in abundance at time of the year, skies provide wonderful photo opportunities with dramatic conjunctions of storm-cloud and light, silvery morning haze and amazing sunsets as well as spectacular but small and shy waterfalls cascading from cliffs.
The best time to visit Lake Manyara National Park for photography is April & May. The combination of the green vegetation, many little waterfalls cascading down the Rift Valley Wall, the storm clouds, clean air, silvery morning haze and stunning sunsets, make this an ideal time to get your perfect shot.
Tsetse Fly are the most annoying of the pests encountered in northern Tanzania. Although very little is known about the relationship between the tsetse fly and environmental conditions, it seems that more humid conditions suite this pest best. This in effect means that December to March are potentially the worst times to travel from this point of view.
Why should I visit Lake Manyara National Park?
The Flamingos, its beauty and the tree-climbing lions
Which of the Big 5 can I see in Lake Manyara?
4 of the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino & Buffalo) are to be seen in Lake Manyara National Park with only the rhino being absent. There is a slight possibility of seeing Wild Dog and Cheetah, but there are places that these are more often seen.
Special animals/behaviour in the Lake Manyara National Park.
Lake Manyara National Park is one of the homes of the tree climbing lions. As far as we can ascertain, this behavior in lions is minimize their exposure the many insects found on the ground, so to get away and have some peace, they climb and lounge in the trees.
Lake Natron and other shallow soda lakes, like Lake Manyara, in northern Tanzania are the main breeding grounds for the lesser Flamingos. They lay their eggs in September and can be seen enmass until early December.
Lake Manyara National Park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons anywhere in the world.
What is the weather like in Lake Manyara?
The year is divided into the Short Rain Season (November & December) and Long Rain Season (April & May) with the intermediate dry seasons. It is hot and humid in November and December, with temperatures up to 35C and short thunderstorms in afternoons or evenings.
In Lake Manyara National Park, April and May are the wettest months. The dry season of July to October is pleasantly warm and the best time to visit Lake Manyara. It can get quite chilly in the dry, cool season of June to September
About Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park is about 2 hours drive from Arusha, enroute to the Ngorongoro Crater & Serengeti National Park, on a good tar road. From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest. Once out of the forest there is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward. To the east is Lake Manyara and the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, and so do the giraffes. Some of the giraffe are so dark in colour 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, whereas 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 are adjacent to the lakeshore in the far south of the park.
Lake Manyara is a beautiful place to visit year round. It is dominated by to two natural features, the Great Rift Valley Wall of mountains and Lake Manyara. The soda lake covers two thirds of the park’s 330km² area. The lake shrinks significantly in the dry season and gives way to salt flats. Rivers and waterfalls cascade from the escarpment in the wet season into lush, green forests of fig, mahogany, baobab and acacia. In the more remote south of the Lake Manyara National Park, hot springs bubble from the plains, heated by underground volcanic activity to flow over sulfur encrusted rocks into the lake. Pods of hippopotami wallow during the heat of the day in pools where the water from the hot springs has cooled to a bearable temperature. The emerge at night to forage.
Lake Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife with more than 400 species having been recorded. 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 water birds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
Why travel to Lake Manyara National Park?
Being so close to Arusha, the gateway to Tanzania’s Northern Circuit (Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater & the famous Serengeti), Lake Manyara is an ideal lunch stop en route to Ngorongoro. Combine this with its beauty, flocks of flamingos and other animals, it is well worth at least a one night stop, if not two. It has the added bonus of a possible sighting of the famous tree climbing lions. It offers birders a fantastic opportunity to see the migratory waterbirds and indeed superior bird watching though most of the year.