This is one of the most diverse of Tanzania’s national parks, a tiny (325km²) combination of Rift Valley Lake, dense woodlands and steep mountainside. Manyara was established specifically to protect the elephant herds that have made the area world-renowned. But heavy poaching in the 1970s and 1980s decimated the herds, although they are now recovering and returning to their former strengths.
Manyara is a birding paradise (more than 380 species), especially for waterfowl and migrants, and the forests are one of the best places to see leopards. Lions hunt on the grassy shores of the lake, and are known for their habit of climbing trees. Best game viewing months are December to February and May to July, tapering off in August and September.