Lake Manyara National Park

Tucked below the majesty of the rift valley wall, Lake Manyara National park consists of thin green band of forest, flanked by the sheer 600m high red and brown cliffs of the escarpment on one side and by the white-hot shores of an ancient soda lake on the other. This wedge of surprisingly varied vegetation supports a wealth of wildlife, nourished by the streams flowing out of the escarpment base and waterfalls spilling over the cliffs.

Acacia wood-land shelters the park's famous tree-climbing lions, lying languidly among the branches in the heat of the day. Feeding in the undergrowth or dozing in the dry riverbeds is the country's densest populations of buffalo and elephant.

Deep in the south of the park hot-spring bubbles to the surface as hippos wallow near the lake's sedge-lined borders. The park's dazzling variety of birds includes thousands of red-billed quelea flitting over the water, pelicans, cormorants and the pink streaks of thousands of flamingos. Manyara is a perfect location for an active safari-canoeing on the lake of mountain biking and abseiling outside the park's borders. The dry season (July to October) is the best for large mammals, while the wet season (November to June) is best for bird watching, waterfalls and canoeing.