Lake Manyara National Park Safari Guide

safarigo   Tanzania  

Lake Manyara NP is a small park at the base of the Rift Valley escarpment. Its groundwater forest offers a nice change of scenery from the more savannah-dominated parks. Although the park is known for tree-climbing lions, big cats aren’t that easily seen. Elephant are prolific and are the main attraction.

Pros & Cons

Very relaxed elephants to view at close quarters
Stunning scenery
Superb birding
Near Arusha and en route to 
Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti
Activities include canoe safaris, night drives and a treetop walkway
Rarely crowded in the morning
Gets crowded in the afternoons during peak season (June and July and October to April)

Wildlife & Animals

The park is known for its legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on the grassy plains. The lake is a seasonal home to large flocks of flamingos, and a wide array of waterbirds can be found on the shore at all times.

Wildlife Highlights

The forest patch at the entrance of the park is home to habituated troops of olive baboon and blue monkey. The occasional bushbuck can also be spotted here, darting off in the undergrowth. Pairs of klipspringer are sometimes seen balancing on the rocks at the far south of the park and the hippo pool is a good place to see these semi-aquatic creatures up close.


Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded and you can reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. A big array of water-associated birds, including pink-backed pelicans, are easily seen around the hippo pool. When the water level is right, the lake is also home to thousands of pink-hued flamingo. More than 50 birds-of-prey have been recorded including the crowned eagle. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

Best Time to Visit

Watching wildlife in Lake Manyara National Park is good all year, but at its best from late June to October, during the Dry season. However, this very scenic park is at its most beautiful during the Wet season, from November to May, when the vegetation is lush and waterfalls cascade down the escarpment.

June to October – Dry Season

Animals are more easily found in the thinner vegetation
Lots of sun and very little rain
Less chance of catching malaria, as the mosquitoes are fewer
Bring warm clothes in June and August as it tends to be cold in the early mornings

November to May – Wet Season

The scenery is green and lush
April and May are low season, so it's usually less crowded with generally lower rates
Although wildlife is easier to spot in the Dry season, Lake Manyara NP offers good wildife viewing throughout the year
Bird watching is best at this time since migratory birds can be found
Roads may become hard to travel due to the rains
March to May is the peak of the Wet season

Weather & Climate

The climate in Lake Manyara NP is mild and temperate. Average temperatures are consistent throughout the year. It is very rarely hot enough to be uncomfortable, but it is almost always cold during the evening and early morning. Taking warm clothing along on early morning game drives is recommended.

Manyara's Dry season is from June to September. The Wet seasons consist of ‘long rains’, which occur from March to May, and ‘short rains’ occurring from October to November. It rarely rains the whole day.

Dry Season – June to October

It is usually sunny and bright.

June, July, August & September – Afternoon temperatures are usually around 24°C/75°F. Average evening temperatures get as cold as 14°C/57°F. This cold weather remains in the morning, so be sure to bring plenty of warm clothes for early game drives.
October – It is possible for the short rains to begin in October.

Wet Season – November to May

Temperatures remain mild during the Wet season, peaking in the afternoon around 27°C/81°F. Night time temperatures are around 16°C/61°F.

November & December – 'Short rains' – These rains last about one month and can occur anytime between November and December. Afternoon showers may occur, but it is unusual for it to rain all day so it will have little impact on your trip.
January & February – A period of dryness is likely between the two rainy seasons, although the timing is hard to predict.
March, April & May – 'Long rains' – Although it rains daily during the wettest months, it is unusual for it to last the whole day. Clouds are usually present.

Getting There

The park is part of the popular northern safari circuit. Arusha is the gateway town and the best way 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).

There are flights from Arusha and the Serengeti to Manyara's airstrip, but the trip from Arusha on the tarred road only takes 1½ hours by car.

Coming from the Ngorongoro Crater, the driving time is about two hours to cover the 80km/50mi.