Lake Manyara is a shallow lake in the Natron-Manyara-Balangida branch of the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania. Said by Ernest Hemingway to be the “loveliest lake, in Africa,” it is also the home of a diverse set of landscapes and wildlife.
The name Manyara comes from the Maasai word emanyara, which is a euphorbia species of plant that is grown into a hedge around a family homestead (Euphorbia tirucalli).
The name “is a Masai description not for the lake, but in general for a lake shore region.”
Of the 127 square miles (329 km2) of Lake Manyara National Park, the lake’s alkaline waters (with a pH near 9.5) cover approximately 89 square miles (231 km2), though the area and pH fluctuate widely with the seasons, and dry spells expose large areas of mud flats. While most known for baboons, the lake and its environs is also home to herbivores such as hippos, impalas, elephants, wildebeests, buffalo, warthogs and giraffes.
Giant fig trees and mahogany seen in the groundwater forest immediately around the park gates draw nourishment from the underground springs replenished continuously from crater highlands directly above the Manyara basin. Leading away from the forest to the fringes of Lake Manyara are the flood plains. To the south are visible the acacia woodlands. Leopards, although in abundance, are hard to get a glimpse of, just like the other elusive carnivores – the lions – of this park.
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