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LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK
Lake Manayara is one of the most scenic parks that you will encounter on your journey in Tanzania. Measuring only 330 sq. km, of which the lake occupies 230 sq. km, it is ideal for a day trip.Lake Manayara is situated on the base of the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. It derives its name from the Maasai word 'manyara' which is a plant known to us as Euphorbia tiraculli. This plant is used by the Maasai as a hedge to form a stockade for their cattle.
As you approach the village Mto wa Mbu (pronounced mtowamboe) from Arusha, the rift wall provides spectacular viewing. Whilst driving up the rift wall, Lake Manyara appears behind you. The view is breathtaking, as you take in this massive lake with it's silver shimmer and surrounding vegetation.
Like most Rift Valley lakes, the water is alkaline. This attracts vast flocks of flamingos, which form pink foam against a silver background of water. There are numerous water birds in the area, including pelicans that waddle around next to short grasses on the shore of the lake.
The park is a bird lover's haven with a variety of local species inhabiting the forest and bush.
The best time to observe these birds is in the late afternoon and early morning. The park authorities have recently allowed for tourists to canoe along certain portions of the lake, enabling bird and animal watching to become another experience altogether.
Animals found in the area include zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck and warthog. Manayara is also known for its tree-climbing lions. These majestic animals find shelter in the branches of trees from the heat and biting flies. There is a particular belt, which they frequent along the woodland, south of the Msasa River.
These lions also have a peculiar specialisation of killing buffalo. An adult buffalo weighs in the proximity of one and a half tons, being far larger than the average weight of an adult male lion. On the southern side of the park, you will find the hot springs of Maji Moto. This word directly translated from Swahili means hot water, and are about 60ºC. The views from some of the lodges on the rift wall are spectacular, and it is highly recommended that you spend at least one day/night of your safari in the area.
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