Lake Manyara often receives the hard sell - with promises of trees stuffed full of lions or elephants that are personal friends of Saba Douglas-Hamilton, but, while both of these are possible, it's actually somewhere that benefits much more from a quiet contemplative approach for which time, and a visit to the far south of the park is neccessary.
Lake Manyara National Park is scenically stunning, dramatically located under the sheer wall of the Rift Valley escarpment, with good populations of game including lots of elephant, lion and buffalo to mention just some. Lying about 60 miles west of Arusha, just south of the Ngorongoro Highlands this is a thin strip of land sandwiched between the Rift wall and the lake itself.
Wonderfully diverse with evergreen forest, escarpment, acacia woodland and lake shore, the location of Lake Manyara, in particular the northern section, means it is perfectly placed for a short visit en route to or from the Ngorongoro Crater and Highlands or the Serengeti National Park. As somewhere you can see a large variety of mammal and bird species quickly and closely, its a good starting point for any northern safari - particularly for children, the very impatient or the short sighted. It's also one of the few parks where it's possible to make nightdrives and spot a variety of nocturnal species that otherwise remain unseen.
Solitude is in short supply here until you get south and with many camps and lodges around its peripheries this small park could not be described as a wilderness experience. Having said that, the farther south you roam the richer the experience often becomes and the park works well in combination with visits to other parks in northern Tanzania.