Lake Manyara

Posted on June 20, 2015


My two safari companions are neither Swiss nor a couple. They are two female German friends who live in Berlin and are in their 40s. They have a great sense of humour, are extremely well travelled and love wildlife. I can’t complain, this has been a stroke of luck! After getting to know them over breakfast we drove up to the park entrance to Lake Manyara which is a short jaunt up the road. 

Our guide and driver is an African who grew up close to Ngorongoro Crater called Noel. Named because he was born on Christmas Day. In Africa a name tells you a lot about a person.

After registering we had had been driving for ten minutes, stopping to see a troop of baboons when Noel spotted a large golden figure in the distance. At a closer look we realised with amazement we were looking at a tree-climbing lioness lying on her side with a juvenile cub by her feet. She was sadly not resting in an acacia tree but in the lush grass. There is no real explanation as to why these lions climb trees here, but some believe it is to get away from the tsetse flies, of which there is abundance. Their bite is painful and very uncomfortable. Seeing a cat so quickly was a magnificent sight. True to her domesticated feline cousins she basked in the morning sun warming herself before retreating under the shade of a tree.

The park is not without problems. According to guide books there has been local extinction to at least nine mammalian species including lesser kudu (antelope); cheetah; wild dogs and black rhino to name a few

   The Lake as you would expect is picturesque and is set against the 600m high Great Rift Valley’s western escarpment. It hosts a wide range of habitat from swamp, evergreen forest, Baobab trees, grassy plains and of course the stunning lake itself which takes up two thirds of the park.

   My first day’s safari was brilliant, we saw two male wildebeest fighting best photo of the day on the pro camera – giraffe; many elephants; a rock hyrax, buffalo; hippos; eagles, buzzards, flamingos, pelicans and many other exotic bird species. Eight hours flew by.

Tomorrow we head into the Serengeti ….and this time we get to sleep inside the park.