You know you have arrived at Lake Manyara National Park when the treetops become filled with birds. The roadside is quite literally stained white from the hundreds of storks living above it.
We stopped at the entrance gate to eat lunch and wait for Rasidi to get our permit from the park office. One of the nice things about being on safari is the boxed lunch. Today’s box contained fried chicken, chicken salad, banana, hard-boiled egg, cake, bread, cheese, and juice. The Tanzanians really know how to barbecue meat – always flavorful and thoroughly cooked.
Lunch over, we entered the park. As I mentioned before, Lake Manyara is one of those places I have been looking forward to visiting my entire life. During the rainy season, the lake can encompass up to 77 square miles – 60% of the total 127 square miles that make up the national park (www.tanzaniaparks.go.tz). But the massive lake with its pristine shoreline and famous flocks of flamingos isn’t the only reason I wanted to visit the park. The wetlands, dried riverbeds, and scrubland are teeming with life both avian and otherwise. And that is really why I wanted to visit this place. The Serengeti has its endless plains and kopjes, Arusha National Park has its forest, and Lake Manyara has its wetlands.
Scrubland on the way to Lake manyara
Once inside the park, we drove through scrubland and over dried up river beds. Herds of elephants, the occasional giraffe, and troops of monkeys were common sights along the way.
Shores of Lake Manyara
A short drive down a narrow and bumpy track and we had finally arrived at the shores of Lake Manyara. Herds of giraffes and zebras were immediately visible. Flocks of flamingos dotted the shoreline. Rasidi tried to drive us as close as possible to the herds without disturbing them,
wetlands of lake manyara national park
After the lake shores we turned inland and headed to the vast wetland area.. Storks, pelicans, and other birds were visible everywhere. The perfect stillness of the waters and the way the sun’s light reflected off the marsh were truly beautiful.
I am so happy I pressed the issue of which park our group was going to. Lake Manyara National Park is a diverse and magical landscape and it was a wonderful start to our five-day safari. As dusk approached, we headed out of the park. Some of the group would be camping tonight and some of us would be staying somewhere truly special. More on that in my next post.