Listed as a "World Heritage Site", Lake Manyara National Park never fails to delight visitors. The 330 sq km (120 sq miles) park of which the soda lake takes up 230 sq km (86 sq miles) is flanked on the west by the sheer wall of the Great Rift Valley. The wall is a catchment area for the rivers which flow into the park creating the fascinating ground water tropical forest at the foot of the wall.
The terrain is so diverse that its mammal and bird lists are most impressive. From the famous tree climbing lions, hippos, elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe, monkeys, the elusive leopard, monitor lizards, pythons, to the flamingos and other birds all attracted to the area. Large areas of ground water forest with giant fig and mahogany trees alternate with acacia woodland and open spaces make this a photographers paradise. As many as 380 bird species have been recorded in the park.
It is thought that the lions climb the trees during the heat of the day for shade and to escape the flies and avoid the dense undergrowth.
The name Manyara is derived from the Maasai word for the pencil plant which is often planted to form thick barricades that serve as livestock bomas.
The nearby town of Mto-wa-Mbuu (mosquito creek) is said to encompass all Tanzania's 124 ethnic groups. In the 1800's it was a major slave trading route and gathering point being the last source of fresh water for many miles for the trek east to the coast. Villages can point out the ancient tree where the traders used to congregate.