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Lake Manyara National Park

As you approach the village of Mto wa Mbu (Mosquito Creek) from the direction of Arusha the outstanding landmark is the spectacular rift wall. Here where the Maasai plains give way to the cultivated uplands of Mbululand, lies Lake Manyara National Park nestling at the foot of the Great Rift Valley escarpment. It is a 125 sq. mile park of which two-thirds is covered by water. The name derives from "emanyara", the Maasai word for prickly euphorbia thorns. This lake is believed to have been formed 2 - 3 million years ago when the Rift Valley came into existence, and was created by streams pouring over the escarpment and collecting into the natural depression that is the lake today. The lake has a high soda content which attracts large flocks of flamingoes that form a pink mantle over the lake when viewed from afar.

Throughout the park, there is a surprising diversity in plant and animal life and habitats, from open grasslands to hot water springs, swamps and forests to rocky outcrops. Each of these supports diverse wildlife and a big array of birdlife, there being over 400 species in the park.

This is the only park in the area that is green all year round, you can easily pick out the mosaic of the Park's different habitats. In the tall trees of the ground water forest, monkeys leap from branch to branch; on the slope of the escarpment Elephants stand in the shade of a Baobab. In the acacia woodland lions lie draped along the branches of umbrella trees, in the pools along the lake shore the hippos wallow, and in the lake itself wade colorful flamingos.

The large variety of mammals, reptiles and birds in the Park and the different types of vegetation, all within a small area make Lake Manyara a diverse and particularly memorable place to visit.

Manyara is also known for its boisterous hippo population, as well as large baboon troops, and short-tempered herds of elephant (a result of years of poaching). But perhaps the phenomenon that makes Manyara famous is its tree-climbing lions.