Sparkling Soda Lake Manyara
Source: Cable & Grain
Lake Manyara National Park was established around a shallow lake in the Natron-Manyara-Balangida section of the East African Rift Valley in the Manyara Region in Tanzania. Lake Manyara takes pride of place in the park and its alkaline waters cover approximately 70% of the 330 square kilometres of the park.
To the east of Lake Manyara lies the Kwakuchinja wildlife corridor.
The corridor allows wildlife to migrate between dispersal areas and parks that include Tarangire National Park to the southeast, Lake Manyara to the west, and the rift valley, Ngorongoro highlands and the Serengeti National Park to the north.
Within the Kwakuchinja corridor are several villages that include Ol Tukai Villageand Esilalei along the lakeshore. While Lake Manyara lacks the raw drama and many of the specific animals that other northern destinations possess, its vegetation is diverse, ranging from savannah to marshes to evergreen forest, supporting one of the highest biomass densities of large mammals in the world.
Created to protect its magnificent elephant herds, Lake Manyara National Park is equally famous for the unusual behaviour of its tree-climbing lions and the flocks of pink flamingos that inhabit the lake's shores. Large numbers of buffalo, cheetah, leopard, Maasai giraffe and hippo also grace the shores of the lake.
Manyara is a soda lake, which shrinks considerably during the dry season, exposing large areas of mud flats. However the park usually has plenty of water throughout the year due to the fresh water springs and streams that flow from the escarpment.
Lake Manyara National Park is a birdwatcher's paradise, with more than 400 species on record, particularly waterfowl and migrants. In October, migrant species arrive at Manyara from as far as the Arctic.
Greater and Lesser Flamingo are often seen in large numbers on this soda lake, particularly thousands and thousands of Lesser Flamingo. Additionally, both White and Pink-backed Pelicans are often seen, as well as African Spoonbill, Hammerkop, African Fish Eagles, and various avocets, kingfishers, cormorants and jacanas.
The climate in Lake Manyara National Park is mild and temperate. Average temperatures are consistent throughout the year and it is very rarely hot enough to be uncomfortable, although it’s almost always cold in the early mornings and evenings.
Manyara's dry season is from June to September, with another short dry season from January to February. The wet seasons consist of a period of 'long rains', which occur from March to May, and a period of 'short rains' occurring from October to November.