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.

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; the blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees; dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and the outsized forest hornbills honk   cacophonously in the high canopy.

In contrast 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, and so do the giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.

            GETTING THERE

 The park is part of the popular northern safari circuit. Most safaris to   this circuit (Manyara NP in particular) start from the town of Arusha.The best option to get there is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is situated about 46km/29mi from Arusha. It is also possible to fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and fly on to Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) using a domestic flight.

There is also the option to book a cheap flight to Nairobi in Kenya, and take a shuttle bus to Arusha. In most cases, your tour operator will pick you up at the airport in Tanzania.

There are flights from Arusha and the Serengeti to Manyara’s airstrip, but the trip from Arusha on the tarred road only takes one and a half    hours by car. Most people do the circuit by safari vehicle. Especially since the park is on the way to Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti –   the other parks of the northern circuit.

Coming from the Ngorongoro Crater, the driving time is about two hours to cover the 80km/50mi. The driving time from Tarangire NP is also   two hours to cover about 100km/60mi.