Lake Manyara National Park, one of the four main national parks on the northern circuit, is only around 90 minutes from Arusha and just shy of an hour from the Ngorongoro Crater. Although a small national park, it is scenically beautiful and contains a great diversity of animals and habitats, including the lake itself which expands and contracts in size depending on season. Lake Manyara is home to good numbers of game including elephant, buffalo, giraffe and zebra. The escarpment and forest also make it a good home for leopards and there is a healthy lion population often know to climb the trees. However, for most visitors the large troops of baboons that inhabit the park will be the most obvious upon entering Manyara.
Lake Manyara is well worth visiting as it is en route to the more well known northern parks of the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, however due to its close proximity to Arusha often there are many day visitors and the northern section of the park can be rather busy. Often visitors will only pop in an out of the park in a rather rushed visit, so really if you are going to visit Manyara it is best to commit to delving deeper into the park or stay overnight there to make the most of this pretty park.
If you do choose to stay in the Manyara area then we highly recommend Chem Chem Lodge and its smaller sister camp Little Chem Chem, which are located in their very own private concession in the wildlife corridor between Manyara and the Tarangire National Park. Alternatively, also deep in the park the fantastic Manyara Tree Lodge is a fantastic spot from which to explore the heart of the park.
On the whole we feel if you are going to visit Lake Manyara then you much commit to a couple of nights to fully appreciate its beauty, or alternatively accept that a short half-day visit en route to the parks further north, will not be the highlight of any trip, but still will give you a scenically different experience to what you will find elsewhere in the Northern Parks.