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Perspectives on East Africa: 3) Lake Manyara National Park

1999 Tanzania.  Lake Manyara 001

The last safari destination we visited in Tanzania was Lake Manyara National Park.  We left our camp after breakfast and drove the Ngorongoro Crater Rim Drive through misty rain-forest   We stopped for some memorable views and then left the Ngorongoro Crater.  After having spent a week in the wilderness, the transition to “civilization” was abrupt and not pretty, with many poorly kept homes, scrawny domesticated animals, and lots of people.  We drove east past farming fields, though with no crops really growing  — off season, I guess (normally corn, wheat, millet and coffee are grown).  There were many towns and villages but no cities and also no wildlife.

By late morning our travels bring us to Lake Manyara National Park.  Lake Manyara is a large alkaline (soda) lake nestled at the eastern base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment, the park occupying the western half of the Lake’s shore.   This map (at the bottom of the page) might help orient you.  The park is lush and green, with large trees and fairly dense vegetation, the thickness of the foliage hiding the animals and not making for ideal game viewing.  As it’s the rainy season there’s a lot of flooding in the lowlands, so we can’t even approach the shore of the lake to view its vast flocks of flamingos.  Still we see large troops of baboons and blue monkeys, many elephants and giraffes, and dozens and dozens of different species of birds (for birders, this is probably the best destination in Tanzania).  Lake Manyara Park is famous for its “tree-climbing” lions (admittedly an uncommon behavior for these big cats), although we didn’t see any.

Elephant, Lake Manyara

After a few hours of exploring the parts of the flooded park that were still accessible, we make for the Lake Manyara Serena Lodge.  This lodge sits high on the rim of the Rift Valley, with great views of Lake Manyara to the east.  Our guide, Alex Lemunge, gives us a detailed briefing of our next activity, the trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro.  The next morning we head to Arusha to shop, relax, and organize ourselves for this trek.

I have to admit that after leaving the wonderful Ngorongoro Crater, a visit to Lake Manyara was anticlimatic.  I wish we’d done the trip in reverse, traveling to Lake Manyara first, then heading to the Crater and the Serengeti.  Still, how can you complain when you’re enjoying a magnificent sunrise over the lake viewed from the comfort of your room, listening to the noise of monkeys scrambling across your roof and the tunes of dozens of songbirds.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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6 Responses to Perspectives on East Africa: 3) Lake Manyara National Park

  1. Mari Musante says:

    Africa is such an amazing place! So many animals to see and birds too! What a wonderful opportunity
    to be able to go to Kenya and Tanzania. Have you been to other places or Preserves in Africa?

    Mari Musante

    • Dr. Fumblefinger says:

      Thanks for your kind note, Mari. Nice to hear from you! Yes, Africa is really a wonderful place! I’ve been on Safari twice, once to Tanzania and once to Botswana (Okavango Delta and Chobe N.P.). Both destinations were great experiences, though if I had to pick out one spot I’d say the setting of the Ngorongoro Crater, with its large number and diversity of animals, will always have a special place in my heart.

  2. PamelaDuckie says:

    I always love all your pictures and blogs. Thank you for sharing them with us and taking us to places where we wish we could go!
    We miss you down here! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    • Dr. Fumblefinger says:

      Thanks, Duckie! Having a good time in the Great White North and enjoying the new job, though I do miss my many friends in Spokane.
      Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!

  3. Bryan says:

    Its great to see more detailed posts of your time in Africa. I find the plethora of links particularly interesting.

    • Dr. Fumblefinger says:

      Thanks, Bryan! If you and Evan are game, maybe we can do a family trip to African sometime in the next few years and go on Safari. I think my best travel experiences have been to Africa. See you over the holidays. Love you, son!