Small and scenic
The 330 km² Lake Manyara National Park is situated in northern Tanzania. Small but extremely scenic, the Park is about 125 km west of Arusha - so a mere 1.5 hour drive.
The actual Lake Manyara itself is the main attraction and during the wet seasons (November/December and March to May), the lake can cover up to 60% of the Park's total area - a vast 231 km². The lake's high alkaline waters attract a variety of waterbirds, including huge flocks of pink flamingos as well as pelicans, storks and cormorants.
The Park is renowned for its excellent bird-watching opportunities in general, as more than 400 different bird species have been recorded. Other wildlife includes elephant, buffalo, cheetah, hippo, Masai giraffe, wildebeest, impala, zebra, warthogs, large troops of baboons, and the legendary but rarely seen tree-climbing lions - yes, they really do climb trees!
As well as the lake, there are waterfalls, jungle-like groundwater forests, acacia trees, grasslands and swamps, all which make for a very pretty backdrop for your game and bird watching.
You can comfortably visit the Park en-route to or from your safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. The driving trail loops in a horseshoe shape around the Park, and can easily be covered in a few hours.
There are a handful of lodges here if you did want to spend longer in the Park, which offer a fully-inclusive safari experience, including all meals and guided game drives. Some lodges also offer canoe safari trips out onto the lake itself.
Each of the 10 suites is a lofty tree house with a private veranda and large windows that open up to the lush forest, welcoming in the sights and sounds of the African bush. Woodchip paths and natural branch railings blur the edges between the natural and the manmade, while wooden interiors and thatched roofs invite the surrounding forest indoors.
The 67 rooms are housed in circular, double-storey, white-washed 'rondavals' (traditional circular buildings with conical thatched roofs), which are strung out along the edge of the cliff so as to allow for maximum views. Each spacious circular room has its own small veranda while the interior décor reflects the blue of the lake and the pink of its flamingos.
The accommodation at Kirurumu Lodge consists of 20 en-suite tented rooms, each one simply furnished yet still very comfortable.Each tent has a wooden veranda, which is a fantastic vantage point from which to view the sun setting over the valley below.
Migunga Forest camp offers 19 semi-luxury tents, all tastefully and simply furnished, and with a large attached bathroom set underneath a canopy of acacia trees. The tents each have their own raised platform with its own private veranda, allowing very personal privileged view of the surroundings.
The Lake Manyara Hotel offers 87 standard rooms, 3 family rooms, 8 deluxe rooms and 2 suites, all of which overlook the Lake Manyara National Park or the hotel gardens. There is one bar open daily in the main lounge area.