Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park 

Located beneath the cliffs of the Manyara Escarpment, on the edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park offers varied ecosystems, incredible bird life, and breathtaking views.

Located on the way to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, Lake Manyara National Park is worth a stop in its own right. Its ground water forests, bush plains, baobab strewn cliffs, and algae-streaked hot springs offer incredible ecological variety in a small area, rich in wildlife and incredible numbers of birds.

The alkaline soda of Lake Manyara is home to an incredible array of bird life that thrives on its brackish waters. Pink flamingo stoop and graze by the thousands colourful specks against the grey minerals of the lake shore. Yellow-billed storks swoop and corkscrew on thermal winds rising up from the escarpment, and herons flap their wings against the sun-drenched sky. Even reluctant bird-watchers will find something to watch and marvel at within the national park.

Lake Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions are another reason to pay a visit to this park. The only kind of their species in the world, they make the ancient mahogany and elegant acacias their home during the rainy season, and are a well-known but rather rare feature of the northern park. In addition to the lions, the national park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons anywhere in the world — a fact that accounts for interesting game viewing of large families of the primates.
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”.

History of Lake Manyara National Park 

Lake Manyara National Park was gazette as a National park in 1960 and was declared as Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1981. The park has an area of 648.7 km2 (402 sq miles) of which 262.7 km2 (163 sq miles) is covered by lake and 386 km2 (240 sq miles) is dry land. The park delivered its name from a plant called Euphorbia tirucalli, known as Emanyara in Maasai language. The Maasai people use this plant to protect their bomas.


Having advantage of habitat diversity, Lake Manyara National Park offers a range of exciting activities including day game drives, walking safaris, night game drive a, canoeing, canopy tour, bird watching and hot bush meals.


Inside the park

Having advantage of habitat diversity, Lake Manyara National Park offers a range of exciting activities including day game drives, walking safaris, night game drive a, canoeing, canopy tour, bird watching and hot bush meals.

Game viewing

Day Game Viewing
This activity is conducted during the day and night. For day game drive the activity is conducted from 06:30 – 18:30 hrs

Night Game drive
Night game drive is carried out from 20:00 – 23:00 hrs, no additional fee for day game drive but for night game drive (NGD) there is an additional fee. Four wheel (4×4) drive vehicles are recommended.

Areas for conducting night game drive
Northern zone – Groundwater forest, Hippo pool, Flood plain, Msasa and Endalla areas.
Central zone – Endabasha forest, Cetral Lakeshore, Majimoto ndogo and Bagayo areas
Southern zone – Sothern lake shore, Iyambi, Array river confluence and Majimoto kubwa areas.
Common nocturnal animal sightings; – Crested Porcupine, Greater and Senegal Galago, Civet, Common Genet, White tailed Mongoose, Lion, Hippos (grazing) and species of birds like Owls, Nightjars and Dikkops

Walking safari

For Lake Manyara National Park, walking safari enables visitors to see big mammals like Elephants, Buffaloes, Hippopotamus, Giraffes, Leopard, Lions as well as medium/small mammals and birds. There are two main trails for walking safari which are Msasa trail and Lake Shore trail. Walking safari include short walking safari from 1- 4 hours and long walking safari (above 4 hours)

Msasa walking trail: Start from Msasa picnic site crossing through the river gorge (2-3hrs) up to the top of the of the rift valley wall.
Lake shore walking trail: Long walk that takes 4 to 6 hrs
Time to conduct the activity: From 19h00 to 23h00 hours.


Canoeing is offered at Lake Manyara when water levels are suitable. The activity is only carried out during the day, between 0700hrs and 1700hrs.

Bird Watching

The park offers a high diversity of bird species over 390 birds species both migrants and residents including 50 birds of prey, raucous forest hornbills, pink-hued flamingos and flotillas of pelicans. Because of this Lake Manyara National Park is a good spot for bird watching. Visitors to the park can expect to see up to 100 different species of bird on any day.

Bird watching hotspots

Hippo pool view point, Boardwalk way at Majimoto and Ground water forest provide the best view of bird watching in the park. Best time for bird watching- November to July is ideal time for bird watching.

Bush meals

There are three bush meals sites in the park namely; Msasa Picnic site, Majimoto picnic site and Endalla picnic sites. This can be arranged through your Tour operator or Hotel.


Lake Manyara National Park is ideal place for filming, as it offers 7 wildlife habitats with abundant wildlife and diverse tourism attractions.


There are 3 picnic sites (Msasa, Majimoto and Endalla). Picnic sites are the best areas for taking short breaks and stretching after a long drive. They are also best places for taking packed meals while on game drive. All of them are located strategically to enable visitors to enjoy their meals while having the benefit of magnificent view of the landscape and wildlife. There is provision of flush toilet, benches and tables

View points

Lake Manyara National Park has two unique views which provide the best view of the park.

Hippo pool view point-It is a free standing wooden platform rising by 8feet above the ground. The viewpoint is located 8km from the main gate, while you are on top of this platform you can have spectacular view of the rift valley wall, marshland, waterfowls and animals such as Hippo, buffalo, wildebeest and zebra. This is one of the few locations where visitors are allowed to alight from vehicles and stretch legs

Lake Manyara view point                                                                                                                                       This view point offers spectacular panoramic view of the lake (Lake Manyara), Ground water forest, rift valley escarpment and surrounding landscapes.

Boardwalk way (Majimoto Boardwalk way)
Maji moto boardwalk way is featured with1.5 meters wide impressive wooden structure, creating a 325 meters long trail standing 1.5 meters above the ground winding up in an observation platform that is 15 meters long and 2.5 meters wide. The trail meanders through the hot springs and lakeshore around a marsh and finally into the lake, the boardwalk way gives visitors a unique view and wonderful photo opportunities at every turn of the boardwalk trail.

Best time to visit 

The park can be accessed throughout the year. However June to October is the best time for large mammals and November to July is ideal time for bird watching.




Best time to visit Lake Manyara National Park

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
= Best
= Good
= Mixed

What to do in Lake Manyara National Park

Wondering what you could do and see in Lake Manyara National Park? Here are a few itineraries that Original Masai Safari can offer you for your next trip to .

Walking Safari ExperienceBushmen SafariTanzania Family SafariSimply Wilderness AdventureBespoke Itinerary