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Manyara Trips

  • Colourful Ngorongoro Crater Lake

On the way to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, Lake Manyara is well worth a stop in its own right. Set in the great Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park lies beneath the cliffs of the Manyara Escarpment and was established in 1960. It covers an area of 325 sq km, of which 229 sq km is the lake. The remaining third is a slice of the marshes, grassland and acacia woodland tucked between the lake and the escarpment, whose reddish brown wall looms 600 m on the western horizon.

The lake is believed to have been formed two to three million years ago when, after the formation of the Rift Valley, streams poured over the valley wall accumulating in the depression below. It has shrunk significantly and was probably at its largest about 250,000 years ago. In recent years it has been noted that water levels are falling in several of the lakes in the region, among them Lake Manyara. This trend often coincides with the development of salt brines, the rise of which is anticipated.

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The park’s ground water forests, bush plains, baobob-strewn cliffs and algae-streaked hot springs offer incredible ecological variety in a small area. Lake Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions 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. Other animals include elephants, hippo and plains animals, as well as a huge variety of birdlife, both resident and migratory. At certain times of year, Lake Manyara feeds thousands of flamingos, which form a shimmering pink zone around the lakeshore. The 400 or so species of bird found here also include ostrich, egrets, herons, pelicans and storks. Also seen are African spoonbills, various species of ibis, ducks and the rare pygmy goose.

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