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Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park Destinations

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Lake Manyara is a shallow, alkaline lake at the base of a sheer stretch of the western Rift valley escarpment.  The north-western area of this lake is protected in a 330 square kilometre national park, which contains a remarkable diversity of terrestrial habitats: the grassy floodplain of the lakeshore, the rocky base of the escarpment, a belt of thick acacia woodland and a lush patch of groundwater forest just inside the northern entrance gate.  Located on the way from Arusha to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, Lake Manyara National Park is worth a stop in its own right.

The alkaline soda of Lake Manyara is home to an incredible array of bird life that thrives on its brackish waters.  The 200 square kilometre lake is sanctuary to over 400 species of bird. 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.  African spoonbills wade through the shallow water on the edge of the lake, swinging their open bill through the water, feeding on small fish, molluscs, amphibeans and crustaceans. Synchronised flotillas of both great white pelicans and pink-backed pelicans scoop fish into their large pouched beaks.  Egyptian geese fly in aeronautical formations through the blue sky above or waddle around on the shoreline.  Even reluctant bird-watchers will find something to watch and marvel at within the national park.

An interesting bio-diversity of fauna and flora can be observed in Lake Manyara National Park thanks to the wide range of biomes within the Park.  The park is particularly noted for its huge herds of buffalo and elephant, as well as giraffe, hippo, reedbuck, warthog, wildebeest, zebra and a great variety of smaller animals .Lake Manyara National Park is especially famous for its tree-climbing lions, who spend most of the day spread out along the branches of Acacia trees, six to seven metres above the ground.  Perhaps, however, the most immediately visible residents are the troops of olive baboon, sometimes found in the company of the smaller and rather beautiful blue monkey.

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Melanie Macphail
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