The Areas In The Lake Manyara National Park : Lake Manyara National Park regions: A portion of the western shore of Lake Manyara as well as the Marang Forest are included in Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park, which is situated at the base of the western slope of the Rift Valley. Despite being relatively small—580 square kilometers, of which 200 square kilometers are taken up by Lake Manyara‘s surface—the park has five distinct ecosystems.
The ecosystems of Lake Manyara National Park includes:
ü Equatorial Primary Forest
ü Xerophilous forest
ü Savannah and expanses of tall grass
ü Lake Environment
ü Hot springs of volcanic origin
EQUATORIAL PRIMARY FOREST
When you enter Lake Manyara National Park through its most popular entrance, the northern gate, you are immediately surrounded by a dense equatorial forest with tall trees that can reach 40 meters in height, including some particularly lovely and sizable fig trees.
Many animals, including many leopards, can be found in this region, but despite their abundance, they are hard to spot because they like to hide among the vegetation. Some visitors enter the park early in the morning as soon as the gates are opened because there is a higher chance of seeing leopards close to the road at that time; however, if vehicles disturb them, the leopards will move away.
Elephants and giraffes are also plentiful here, especially during the dry season when they seek shelter from the sun but, more importantly, food. In fact, this forest is lush and green all year round because it receives water from the nearby underground water source.
In addition, a variety of birds of prey, including many species of raptors, can find shelter in the forest. Baboon troops and other monkey species, like blue monkeys, also prefer this part of the park because it provides them with shelter from the elements. Finally, there are a number of herbivores, including bushbuck.
For a few kilometers, the main trail winds through this dense forest before giving way to the other habitats of Lake Manyara National Park.
The Marang Forest, which was only included in Lake Manyara National Park in 2012, is another unspoiled forest section that can be found in the park’s southernmost region. This forest, which is situated on the escarpment of the Rift Valley, protects an unpolluted, unexplored environment that is rich in fauna. It is also significant because it serves as one of the ancient elephant migration routes. There are no tracks in this part of the park, making a safari impossible.
After passing through the Equatorial Primary Forest and continuing on the trail that starts at the park’s main entrance, you will reach the Xerophilous Forest.
This area of Lake Manyara National Park is closer to the western shore of the lake, which is one of the alkaline lakes at the bottom of the Rift Valley, and to Lake Natron. The plants and shrubs found here have evolved to survive on land with a high salt component.
Here, palms, acacias, and some baobabs are the most common trees, and the vegetation is less abundant and scarcer.
In this area of the park, you can see giraffes, impalas, buffaloes, and waterbucks, as well as lions that prefer to spend the day climbing trees around the Manyara Lake than anywhere else. There are also many different species of birds, including hornbills, weavers, bishops, starlings, and many others. The trees give way to more open savannah and vast stretches of tall grass as you get closer to the park’s center and the shore of Lake Manyara.
SAVANNAH AND EXPANSES OF TALL GRASS
The western escarpment of the Rift Valley and the alkaline lake are separated by a small strip of land that makes up the center of Lake Manyara National Park.
Large herbivores like zebras, buffaloes, wildebeests, and some antelopes prefer this area of the park because it has open, shrubby savannah and tall grasses. This is the area of the park where they can find food, especially during the green season.
Giraffes and occasionally elephants can be found in this area as well. The freshwater puddles and pools that were created during the rainy season also attract buffaloes and hippos, who spend their hottest days there. Numerous bird species, including barbets, bishops, weavers, and many others, can be found here.
Cladium mariscus, also known as swamp sawgrass, is a specific species of grass that grows in this region. Buffaloes love it, and the Mbugweto use it to weave their exquisite mats.
In addition to releasing salt into the ground around the lake, the alkaline, salty shallow waters of Lake Manyara, like those of Lake Natron, prevent mammals in the park from drinking the water directly. Instead, they prefer to drink from nearby waterways like the Mto Wa Mbu River and puddles created by rain.
However, many aquatic birds are drawn to Lake Manyara, especially the greater and lesser pink flamingos, which are present in these waters from November to August before migrating to Lake Natron, where they nest from the end of August to the beginning of October.
When there are no flamingos in the area from August to October, pelicans and a number of storks, including the yellow-billed, saddle-billed, and marabou storks, are present. There are numerous other resident and migratory waterbird species, including the black-winged stilt, herons, cormorants, bitterns, African spoonbills, ibis, different species of geese, and the hammerkop.
It’s very interesting to follow the elevated wooden path that was built close to the picnic area because it allows you to enter the lake and get close to the bird flocks without disturbing them too much. The only disadvantage is that there is no shade, and the sun is very hot, especially in the middle of the day.
HOT SPRINGS OF VOLCANIC ORIGIN
The Maji Moto sources are located in the most southern region of the Lake Manyara National Park; the name Maji Moto literally translates to “hot waters”; in actuality, the hot, gushing waters are of volcanic origin.
A temporary waterfall enters the park during the rainy season from the source, which is situated at the base of the Rift Valley escarpment.
Except for the rainy season, when the vegetation becomes a little lusher, this narrow strip of land, wedged between the escarpment and the lake’s surface, is semi-arid year-round.
In the rockiest area, at the base of the escarpment, there are acacia woods where you can see giraffes, zebras, impalas, warthogs, dik-diks, wildebeests, waterbucks, and klipspringers. You can also see lions here during the daytime as they climb on the branches of the plants.