Lake Manyara National Park lies in the Great Rift Valley, North Tanzania, at 3116 feet above sea level, around the majestic picturesque lake Manyara, right in the middle of an emerald green forest, between red and brown cliffs. Lake Manyara is one of the pearls of Tanzania, praised by Hemingway as the most beautiful site he ever happened to see in Tanzania. It was formed about three millions years ago after the the Great Rift Valley took shape. Back then the bottom of the present lake was hollow and filled with water.
Lake Manyara is the only place on Earth were tanzanite - a mineral used in the manufacturing of jewelry, is produced.
Since ancient times these lands have been inhabited by the Maasai tribe, so the lake eventually took the name of these people. “Emanyara” translates from the language of Maasai as Euphorbia Tirucalli or rubber spurge. This fancy plant that resembles a heap of twisted rope, was used by Maasai in the construction of huts. A car drive to the lake from Arusha, which is 80 miles from the park, will take about 1.5 hour, while you can seize the occasion and come by Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, lying not far from the lake.
Wildlife of Lake Manyara National Park
The National Park was opened in 1960, and in 1981 UNESCO’s “Man and the Biosphere” programme listed the park in the international network of biosphere reserves. Overall area covers 127 sq. miles, of which 88 sq. miles are occupied by the lake. The luxuriant forest, inhabited by colonies of baboons and blue monkeys, gives way to sparse wood, meadows, swamps and lakes. Buffalos, elephants, giraffes, antiplotes, hippos, zebras are all over the place, however, lions climbing trees make the most eminent scene. They spend most of the time lounging on acacia trees at 19-20 feet above the ground, watching the prey. Zoologists claim this to be owing to unusually high density of wild beasts in the territories neighboring Lake Manyara. You can see large groups of hippos leaving lake Manyara at night: being deprived of perspiratory glands, they spend the day in the lake to cool themselves and once the night falls they set off in searches of food.
Birds at Lake Manyara
The birdlife near the lake is incredibly rich. The park is inhabited by more than four hundred species of birds, some of which can only be seen at Lake Manyara. Pink flamingos who come here every year in great numbers to make a feast of greenish seaweeds make an unforgettable impression. Also, the park is inhabited by three species of gannets, snake birds, several species of herons that live in huge colonies, white pelicans, storks, ibises, marabous, bearded woodpeckers, African drongos, hornbills, openbill storks, whose unusual form of the bill allows to catch snails, as well as over 380 species of migrant birds. They are chased by 44 species of large feathery vultures, among which palm-nut vultures, white-backed vultures and Bonelli’s eagles are the largest.