Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park is most famous for its lions climbing on to acacia tree branches. The national park is 330 square kilometers in size, of which 230 square kilometers are occupied by the waters of Lake Manyara. The park contains a large variety of habitats such as the rift valley wall, the ground water forest, acacia woodland and areas of open grassland, thus being able to support a large number of species of flora and fauna. Lake Manyara National Park under the wall of the Great Rift Valley has an estimated population of over 3 million flamingos. A total of 60,000 tourists from mainly Europe, America, Scandinavian countries and other parts of the world including South Africa visit the park annually.
The Park has a wedge of surprisingly varied vegetation that sustains a wealth of wildlife, nourished by chattering streams bubbling out of the escarpment base and waterfalls spilling over the cliff. Cradled in the glory of its surroundings bellow the sheer majesty of the rift valley wall, Lake Manyara lies serene, spreading in a heat haze and backed by a thin green band of forest and 600 meters of sheer red and brown cliffs of the escarpment. The Acacia woodland shelters the park’s famous but elusive tree climbing Lions, along with squadrons of mongoose feasting on the trail of buffaloes and elephants, the most populous pachyderms per square kilometer in Tanzania in this area
Human existence in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area goes back beyond the dawn of history as evidenced by the numerous remains of hominids, mankind’s earliest recognizable ancestors. The world’s two famous pre-historic archaeological sites Gorge and Laetoli are in the area. The Laetoli footprints of our remote ancient ancestors lived about 3.5 million years ago, are found in the area. The Zinjanthropus man lived about 1.8 million years ago, Homo Habilis to Homo Sapiens were found in Olduvai Gorge.
The story of our ancient ancestors told in the fossils of Olduvai and Laetoli confirms that the humans and hominids have been living in the area for millions of years. In historic times, humankind in Ngorongoro includes the Hadzabe and pastoral Maasai numbering 52,000 with their strong insistence in their tradition and customs, which attract many visitors to the area.
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania’s largest national park is located about 335 kilometers north-west of Arusha town. Most tourists visiting the world famous national park are fascinated by the annual migration; millions of Wilde Beest, Zebra and Thomson’s Gazelles are driven by ancient instinct to migrate to the Maasai Mara in Kenya.
The Wilde Beest usually moves through the northern woodlands between June and December every year to feed on the long grass found during this season. During February and March they migrate to the southern plains where the graze is rich in minerals need to rear their young, when the rain stops in May and June the herds are once again forced to migrate to the north-west. Migratory birds including the stork, pallid harrier and peregrine falcon also use the southern plains during the season.
The Serengeti is also renowned for its wealth of leopards and lion, the vast reaches of the park helps the black rhino fight extinction and provide a protected breeding ground for the vulnerable cheetah. The Kirawira River with its population of giant Nile crocodiles has made this area very famous worldwide.
Tarangire National Park
The fierce sun sucks the moisture from the landscape, baking the earth a dusty red, the withered grass as brittle as straw. The Tarangire River has shrivelled to a shadow of its wet season self. But it is choked with wildlife. Thirsty nomads have wandered hundreds of parched kilometres knowing that here, always, there is water.
Herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons. It’s the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem – a smorgasbord for predators – and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed.
During the rainy season, the seasonal visitors scatter over a 20,000 sq km (12,500 sq miles) range until they exhaust the green plains and the river calls once more. But Tarangire’s mobs of elephant are easily encountered, wet or dry. The swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world.