A group of flamingos wading in Lake Manyara in Tanzania.

© Kevin Craw/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lake Manyara National Park

Northern Tanzania

Lake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania’s smaller and most underrated parks. While it may lack the size and variety of other northern-circuit destinations (there's pretty much one main north–south route through the park), its vegetation is diverse, ranging from savannah to marsh to evergreen forest (11 ecosystems in all) and it supports one of the highest biomass densities of large mammals in the world.

The chance to see elephant families moving through the forest or Lake Manyara's famous population of tree-climbing lions (although sighting them is becoming increasingly rare) are alone reason enough to come. The dramatic western escarpment of the Rift Valley forms the park’s western border. To the east is the alkaline Lake Manyara, which covers one-third of the park but shrinks considerably in the dry season. During the rains, the lake hosts millions of flamingos and other bird life.

The park is also notable for its raised treetop walkway, Tanzania's first.

Entry fees are valid for 24 hours, for a single entry only – worth remembering if you're thinking of returning to your hotel outside the park for lunch; bring a picnic lunch instead.

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