Lake Manyara was made a National Park in 1960 and covers an area of 330 square kilometers, of which some 230 square kilometers are lake. It lies at the foot of the western wall of the Rift Valley escarpment, and is particularly famous for its elephant and tree climbing lions. It is also well known for its rich variety of birdlife in both the forest and along the lake shore. The name Manyara comes from the Masaai word for the plant euphorbia tirucalli which they use to build their livestock stockades. Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large water birds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.

The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.

The most common animals found in this park are the Abyssinian black and white colobus monkeys, the Vervet monkeys, the red forest duikers, hippos, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, bushbucks and sometimes the leopard. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park including Eurasian migrants, which can be seen between October and April. Mount Meru 4575 m can be scaled in three to four days, with overnight accommodation in alpine huts on your way up and down,

Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park, the Serengeti safari is famed for its annual wildebeest migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebras and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing. Yet even when the Serengeti safari migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.

Named after the river that flows through the park, Tarangire National Park is one of the lesser known Tanzanian National Parks, giving it a real air of undiscovered Africa. Famous for its tree climbing pythons, massive baobabs and large herds of elephant, Tarangire National Park is small but still home to a significant wildlife population, with a density of wildlife matched only by Ngorongoro. Birding is particularly good here; the swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world. Tarangire works well as part of a northern circuit and can be visited en route to Manyara, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, or on the way back. Tarangire walking safaris are a wonderful alternative to driven safaris.

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