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    Walking safari in Lake Manyara

    12 minutes read
    Walking Safari at Lake Manyara National Park - Easy Travel Tanzania
    Walking Safari at Lake Manyara National Park - Easy Travel Tanzania

    One of the highlights of visiting Lake Manyara is the thousands of beautiful pink flamingoes you can witness. On top of that, it’s the ideal en route to the top-class safari of Serengeti and Ngorongoro.

    Closer to Mother Nature.

    I can smell elephant,” says our guide in hushed tones. Elephant? As a complete novice at taking a walking safari, I can only smell my own fear.

    “The three of us have been on foot in the forests of Lake Manyara for about twenty minutes, tiptoeing in single file, motioning to each other with hand signals, whispering when words are required.

    “The three of us have been on foot in the forests of Lake Manyara for about twenty minutes, tiptoeing in single file, motioning to each other with hand signals, whispering when words are required.

    I am spellbound: although this “elephant smell” is the morning’s first sign of large mammals, we have already discovered incredible facts about creatures so small that you would be completely unaware of their existence from the confines of a Land Cruiser. That is the joy of a walking safari

    All creatures great…and small in Lake Manyara

    Tanzania - walking safari lake manyara tanzania - walking safari in lake manyara

    Even a tiny, seemingly insignificant hole in the ground can reveal extraordinary secrets. I had never even heard of the ant-lion, a member of the so-called ‘Small Five,’ each of which shares part of its name with the ‘Big Five.’ We are standing over a little crater in the sand, no more than five centimetres in diameter and dug by the ant-lion.

    Like its feline namesake, this cunning creature uses ambush as its chosen hunting method. To demonstrate, our guide stoops down, finds an unfortunate ant, and pops it in the crater. Furiously, the insect tries to scramble up the wall of the mini-crater, but the sandy surface offers no help.

    Within a few seconds, up pops the ant-lion from below, and the ant becomes lunch. Fresh, fast food, though looking around us at the hundreds of craters, there is plenty of competition from the neighbors.

    From lonely hunter to insect factory: The termite mound

    While the ant-lion lurks in solitary style beneath the surface, the giant termite mound in front of us reveals a different, communal way of living. This strange mud-like construction has taken months to build and provides living space to the genet, mongoose, civet cat and snakes, and thousands of termites – queen, king, soldiers, and workers. (One creature not welcome here is the aardvark, the termite’s biggest predator.) The mound’s careful construction gives it a constant temperature and lasts up to fifty years.

    A pile of poo​

    What can you learn from a pile of animal dung? We are now poised over a massive pile of dik-dik poo, and I am wondering how such a small, fragile little creature can have excreted so much at once. But our guide explains that the dik-dik will have only three or four places in his territory where he and his family will defecate, rather than just doing it in any old random location.

    Fresh poo is dropped on top of old poo, so any would-be predator struggles to pick up any clues as to the dik-dik’s most recent location. A clever strategy: “Being small in the bush, you have to be smart to survive,” our guide advises.

    The smell of the elephant in Lake Manyara

    Lake manyara

    As we reach a dried-out river bed, this is the moment that our guide catches a whiff of pachyderm. I stick my nose in the air, but my senses are amateur, and I smell nothing.

    Sure enough, though, a few moments later, a rustle of foliage will alert us to the presence of a small herd of elephants, and a low bellow of warning sends us into a cautious, slow-paced retreat. An elephant will always give you a warning—and it’s one you need to obey! We even glimpse some flapping, giant ears as we back off. Magical.

    A giant’s grave in Lake Manyara

    And then, there’s a tinge of sadness as we stumble upon a giraffe’s skeleton. Picked clean—no doubt by the natural hierarchy—it has been dead for some while.

    Only bones remain, as following the lion’s share – no other beast would have brought down a mammal of this size – the vultures and hyenas will also have had their fill. Our guide bends down to show us the teeth and explains how the giraffe is a “browser” in how it eats.

    From the skull, he shows us the cranial bump and then the horn free of tuft, which shows that this was a male; from the size of the foot, he concludes that this was indeed a giant creature, even by giraffe standards.

    Scenic Trails and Natural Wonders

    As we tread the dusty path, our guide suddenly perks up at the scent of elephants lingering in the air. Despite my attempts to sniff the breeze, my amateur senses fail to detect any hint of their presence. However, within moments, the gentle rustle of foliage signals the arrival of a small herd of elephants, prompting us to proceed with cautious, deliberate steps.

    A low, rumbling bellow is a clear warning from these magnificent creatures, compelling us to retreat slowly and respectfully. Witnessing the majestic sight of their flapping ears as we cautiously withdraw, the encounter feels nothing short of magical.

    The Unique Experience of Walking Safaris

    As we venture into the heart of Lake Manyara National Park on foot, every step brings us closer to nature’s secrets. With keen eyes and attentive senses, our guide leads us through untamed landscapes, revealing the true essence of the wilderness.

    While my senses may falter, our guide’s expertise uncovers hidden wonders at every turn, creating an unforgettable journey of discovery along the forest hike trail and Yamba River trail.

    Discovering Hidden Gems: Lake Manyara on Foot

    Exploring Lake Manyara on foot unveils a world of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Each step from secluded glades to tranquil lakeshores along the lake shore trail reveals a new dimension of this captivating landscape.

    With the guidance of our knowledgeable hosts, we go on a journey to uncover the lesser-known gems of Lake Manyara, immersing ourselves in its rich biodiversity and scenic beauty.

    Birdwatching Adventures in Lake Manyara

    Embarking on a birdwatching adventure is a symphony of sights and sounds for nature enthusiasts. With binoculars, we set out to spot the bird species that call this park home. From vibrant flamingos to elusive kingfishers along the lake shore, every sighting offers a glimpse into the rich avian diversity of Lake Manyara, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.

    Immersive Nature Experiences: Walking Safaris in Tanzania

    Walking safaris in Lake Manyara National Park offers immersive nature experiences that connect us with the heartbeat of the wild. Guided by experienced rangers, we traverse pristine landscapes teeming with life, forging a deep connection with the natural world. From encounters with iconic wildlife to serenity in the dense forest cover, each step on our safari journey is filled with wonder and discovery.

    Tips for a Memorable Walking Safari in Lake Manyara

    1. Choose the Right Footwear: Opt for comfortable, sturdy walking shoes or comfy boots with an excellent grip to navigate the rocky and woody paths of Lake Manyara.

    2. Stay Hydrated: Carry plenty of water during your walking safari, especially in the hot sun. It’s essential to drink water regularly to avoid dehydration.

    3. Wear Suitable Clothing: Dress in lightweight, breathable clothing that provides sun protection. Pants and long sleeves can help protect against scratches from vegetation and insect bites.

    4. Bring Binoculars and a Camera: Binoculars are essential for bird watching and wildlife spotting, while a camera lets you capture fantastic scenery and wildlife encounters.

    5. Listen to Your Guide: Pay attention to your guide’s instructions and insights about the park’s flora, fauna, and safety protocols. They are experts who can enhance your experience and keep you safe.

    6. Be Respectful of Wildlife: Maintain a safe distance from wildlife and avoid disturbing their natural behavior. Keep noise to a minimum and refrain from feeding or approaching animals.

    7. Embrace Early Mornings: Early morning walks offer the best wildlife viewing opportunities as animals are most active during this time. Set out early to catch the sunrise and witness the park’s beauty in the soft morning light.

    8. Stay Vigilant: Be alert and observant of your surroundings, including potential hazards like cliffs or uneven terrain. Watch where you step and stay on allotted trails.

    9. Pack Essentials: In addition to water and camera gear, carry essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, and a lightweight backpack to store your belongings.

    10. Enjoy the Experience: Take time to enjoy Lake Manyara’s wilderness’s sights, sounds, and smells. Walking safaris here give you a unique chance to connect with nature and make lasting memories.

    Conservation Efforts and Sustainability in Walking Safaris

    Walking safaris embody a commitment to conservation and sustainability, ensuring the protection of wildlife and habitats for future generations. Through responsible tourism practices and community engagement, we support conservation efforts that safeguard the natural environment of Lake Manyara National Park.

    By treading lightly on the land and respecting wildlife boundaries along the Rift Valley escarpment, we play an essential role in preserving the delicate balance of Tanzania’s ecosystems.

    Crafting Your Perfect Walking Safari Itinerary

    Crafting the perfect walking safari itinerary in Lake Manyara National Park requires careful consideration of personal preferences and interests. From choosing the ideal route to selecting accommodations that offer immersive nature experiences, our guide helps tailor the itinerary to our specific needs.

    With their expert guidance, we curate a bespoke safari adventure that promises unforgettable moments and lasting memories amidst the breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife of Lake Manyara.

    Journey’s end in Lake Manyara

    When we reach the end of our fascinating walk, down by Lake Manyara, a solitary yellow-billed stork stands guard over the shallow waters. A small squadron of the lake’s famous flamingos take off in formation, their slender frames making them look like mere pencil drawings as they stretch out in flight to their full, elegant length.

    We wait for our vehicle to pick us up. All our safaris have been amazing, but our walking safari in Lake Manyara National Park will live long in the memory as a true highlight.

    Bottom line?

    At around 650 square kilometres, Lake Manyara is Tanzania’s third smallest national park. And only some of it is land, as the lake’s shallow waters occupy a large proportion of its space. Although small, the diverse environments ensure a good variety of wildlife and a great collection of bird species.

    The grassy floodplains are a favorite location, either permanent or seasonal, for large mammals such as buffalo, giraffes, hippos, or maybe a troop of playful olive baboons. Don’t forget the hippo pool, and watch for lions, cheetahs, and leopards. The crowned eagle and African hawk-eagle are often seen looking for prey, and the lake is home to those beautiful flamingos.

    Getting you there?

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What are walking safaris in Lake Manyara?

    Walking safaris in Lake Manyara offers the opportunity to explore the park’s diverse ecosystems on foot, guided by experienced rangers. These safaris provide a unique way to connect with nature, allowing you to immerse yourself in the African wilderness’s sights, sounds, and smells. Whether trekking along the Iyamba River trail or venturing through dense forest cover, each step brings you closer to the heart of Lake Manyara’s outstanding scenic beauty.

    2. Are walking safaris suitable for everyone?

    Walking safaris cater to all fitness levels, with routes ranging from leisurely nature walks to longer, more challenging hikes. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, there’s a walking safari option that suits your abilities and interests. The diverse terrain of Lake Manyara, including rocky and woody paths, ensures that every visitor can find a trail that matches their comfort level.

    3. What attractions can I expect to see during a walking safari in Lake Manyara?

    You can expect to see diverse wildlife species, including elephants, giraffes, buffalo, and various bird species, along the Iyamba River trail and lake shore. Lake Manyara is renowned for its abundant birdlife, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. The park’s excellent rift valley offers stunning panoramic views and highlights any walking safari experience.

    4. Are there guided walking safaris available?

    Guided walking safaris are available, led by knowledgeable rangers who provide insights into the park’s flora, fauna, and history. These guides are passionate about conservation and wildlife and are eager to share their expertise with visitors. By joining a guided walking safari, you’ll better understand Lake Manyara’s ecosystems and the importance of protecting them for future generations.

    5. Can I explore the treetops of Lake Manyara?

    The Lake Manyara treetop walkway offers a unique perspective of the park’s canopy and is a must-visit attraction during your safari. Walking along the elevated platforms allows observing wildlife from a different vantage point and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The treetop walkway is suitable for all visitors, making it a popular choice for families and nature enthusiasts.

    6. What is the best time for bird watching in Lake Manyara?

    Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for bird watching when bird activity is at its peak. During these times, you’ll have the opportunity to spot various bird species, including flamingos, pelicans, and storks. The tranquil surroundings of Lake Manyara provide the perfect backdrop for birdwatching, allowing you to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature fully.

    7. Are there longer walking safari experiences available?

    Longer walking safari experiences are available more extensively for those exploring the park’s trails. These multi-day excursions allow you to venture deeper into Lake Manyara’s wilderness, spending nights under the stars in secluded bush camps. Longer walking safaris offer a more immersive experience, providing ample opportunities to encounter wildlife and witness the park’s beauty at different times of the day.

    8. Are there any night activities available in Lake Manyara?

    Night game drives are available for a chance to spot nocturnal wildlife species under the guidance of armed rangers. These drives offer a unique opportunity to witness the park’s inhabitants during their most active hours. Night game drives provide an unforgettable safari experience, from elusive predators to secretive nocturnal mammals.

    9. Can I visit hot springs during a walking safari in Lake Manyara?

    Hot springs are one of the attractions you can visit during your safari, offering a unique natural phenomenon to explore. These geothermal features within the park provide a fascinating glimpse into the Earth’s geological processes. Visiting the hot springs is a relaxing way to experience Lake Manyara’s natural beauty while learning about the park’s volcanic history.

    10. What safety measures are in place during walking safaris?

    Armed rangers accompany all walking safaris to ensure visitors’ safety and mitigate potential risks. These rangers are highly trained professionals who are equipped to handle any situation that may arise.

    Additionally, walking safaris adhere to strict safety protocols, including guidelines for wildlife encounters and emergency procedures. Your safety is always the top priority during a walking safari in Lake Manyara.

    11. How can I experience the incredible scenic beauty of Lake Manyara?

    Walking safaris offer the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the park’s breathtaking landscapes, including the stunning views of the Great Rift Valley. From panoramic vistas to hidden waterfalls, Lake Manyara is brimming with natural beauty waiting to be explored. Whether trekking along the lake shore or ascending the Rift Valley escarpment, every step reveals a new perspective of this awe-inspiring landscape.

    12. What should I expect along the rocky and woody paths of Lake Manyara?

    The rocky and woody paths may be challenging, but they offer a unique adventure through the park’s diverse terrain. As you navigate these paths, you’ll encounter towering trees, dense foliage, and rocky outcrops, each contributing to Lake Manyara’s rich biodiversity. While the terrain may be rugged, the rewards of exploring these paths are well worth the effort, offering unparalleled opportunities for wildlife viewing and scenic photography.

    13. What wildlife species can I expect to encounter during a walking safari?

    As you traverse the park’s trails, you can encounter many wildlife species, including elephants, zebras, wildebeests, and more. Lake Manyara is home to many mammals, birds, and reptiles, making it an excellent area for wildlife enthusiasts. From iconic African species to lesser-known inhabitants, every walk in Lake Manyara offers the chance to encounter fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.

    14. Are there opportunities for longer nature walks in Lake Manyara ?

    Longer nature walks are available for those seeking a more immersive experience in the park’s natural surroundings. These extended walks allow you to spend more time exploring Lake Manyara’s diverse ecosystems, from dense forests to open grasslands. With the guidance of experienced rangers, you’ll have the opportunity to delve deeper into the park’s hidden gems and witness its extraordinary biodiversity up close.

    15. How can I book a walking safari in Lake Manyara for my Tanzania safari tour?

    You can book a walking safari in Lake Manyara as part of your Tanzania safari tour package, which typically includes guided excursions and accommodations within the park. Tanzania safari tours offer a range of options for exploring Lake Manyara, from short walks to longer hiking adventures. By booking through a reputable tour operator, you can ensure a seamless experience and maximize your time in this remarkable destination.

    Musaddiq Gulamhussein - Owner - Easy Travel Tanzania

    About the author: Musaddiq

    Meet Musaddiq Gulamhussein, owner of Easy Travel Tanzania, a tour company creating life-changing safari experiences for over 35 years. Musaddiq has explored Tanzania, developing a deep understanding of the local cultures and traditions. Follow his journey and gain insights into the African Safari experience through Easy Travel's social media and blog.

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