Lake Manyara

Another 8.00am start from Serengeti and we were on the longest trip of the safari -  from Serengeti to Lake Manyara Kilimamoja Lodge - 5 hours drive. 

Passing the usual impala, elephant, Grant’s & Thompson’s gazelles and zebra, we headed south-east to rejoin the B144 for the return “massage”. Before reaching the main road, Sija slowed and stopped. A vulture was standing atop a tree alongside the track.


 A few shots, then off again. Rattling along the bumpy track at around 45Km in the usual cloud of dust, Sija suddenly stopped again and asked for the binoculars. He had spotted a cheetah (the only one on the entire trip) laying on a rock about 450m from the road. How he does it is  mystery! It took the rest of us some time to spot the cheetah as it lay on the rock even when Sija had told us where to look. After a few minutes, the cheetah jumped down behind the rock, then re-appeared a few seconds later staning on the top of a second rock.

After a few minutes, we had to leave again to continue the journey which ended at lunchtime at the Kilimamoja Lodge near the Lake Manyara National Park.

The Lodges so far had been excellent. Clean, smart with African themed decor and staff who could not do enough to help. (At Serengeti, I was not even allowed to carry a handful of teabags back to our room!). Kilimamoja is…….well, exceptional. But more about that later. Let’s go to the national park first.

Lake Manyara is one of the lakes in the East African Rift Valley - an active tectonic area where there is a divergent plate zone.(In simple terms, there is a crack in the earth’s crust which is getting wider. Eventually, Somalia on the east side of the plate boundary, will separate from the rest Africa. It’s due to become an island in about 10 million years.

The lake is mildly alkaline (though not as strongly alkaline as Lake Natron futrther north) and saline. This produces an environment which favours the growth of large numbers of shrimp like crustacea which feed not only catfish and tilapia, but also significant flocks of flamingos. (The fish species tend to be found near the streams of fresh water flowing down from Ngorongoro where the salinity is reduced).

On our way through the park, we passed a coulple of lionesses that were resting in a tree. Lions don’t normally climb trees, but the prides in Manyara have developed the habit. I wouldn’t claim that we 'saw’ them - just dusky shapes behind the leaves. 


Driving down to the lake, we passed through the forest area, home to monkeys and more baboons, spotted a monitor lizard basking alongside a stream and then moved out into the reed beds that surround the lake. Bulrushes standing 4m high stand in the swampy water which is home to hippo and buffalo. Heron, hottentot teal, AFrican jacana, kingfisherand more…….the bird list was incredible!

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  © Richard Miles 2019