Stretching for 50 km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”.
The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. Manyara has an area of 330 sq km (127 sq miles), of which up to 200 sq km (77 sq miles) is lake when water levels are high. The park is located in northern Tanzania (126 km / 80 miles) drive from Arusha west of Arusha along a newly surfaced road, close to the ethnically diverse market town of Mto wa Mbu.
Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
This alkaline lake is however home to herds of large mammals such as hippos, buffaloes, elephants and zebras. Common predators found here includes hyena, lion, leopard and cheetah are rarely spotted. Large concentration of baboons and other common monkey family are easily seen.
Lake Tanganyika is outstanding for its extraordinary north-south extension (677 km) and depth (1,436 m). It is the second largest of African lakes, the second deepest (next to Lake Baikal in central Russia) and the longest lake of the world. Its very ancient origin, only competitor by such old lakes as Baikal, and a long period of isolation resulted in the evolution of a great number of indigenous organisms, including brilliantly colored cichlid fishes, well-known gastropods with the appearance of marine snails, and so on. Of the 214 species of native fishes in the lake, 176 are endemic; the number of endemic genera amounts to 30 in cichlids and 8 in non- cichlid fishes.
The surrounding areas are mostly mountainous with poorly developed coastal plains except on part of the east side. Especially on the western coast, steep side-walls of the Great Rift Valley reaching 2,000 m in relative height form the shoreline. The sole overflow river, the Lukuga, starts from the middle part of western coast and flows westward to join the Zaire River draining into the Atlantic.
It is inland sea that sits at the heart of the continent bordered by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. It’s the only and reliable source of the River Nile whose waters rise from its northern shores, is the world’s second largest lake with fresh water and also home for Nile perch, which weight over 100 kg.
There are numerous small Islands around the coast, which offer great opportunities for fishing i.e. Nansio Island as well as wildlife such as saa nane Island and Rubondo island National Park.
The Lake Rukwa is the forth largest lake in Tanzania located on the south-western regions of Rukwa and Mbeya. It is within the Great Rift Valley system of which Lake Nyasa is a part. It covers an area of about 2650 square kilometers between Lake Tanganyika and Nyasa with average depth of 3 to 5 meters.
The shallow alkaline lake is cyclical in nature in terms of size which caused by the varying inflow of streams, for example, in some years in the past the lake shrank to a length of about 50 kilometers, years later it expanded to 135 kilometres long. However, Lake Rukwa has a large drainage basin in Tanzania with an area of 81,000 square kilometers. The lake does not have outflow. Rivers that are flowing in are Rungwa, Wuku, Lukwate, Kikambo, Luika, Luiche, Kavuu, Chambua, and Songwe.
The lake is rich in wildlife, largest concentration of crocodiles and hippopotamus, more than half of it lies within Newly Extended Katavi National Park. There are more than 350 species of birds listed in Lake Rukwa and its surroundings. The large numbers of water birds: including African skimmer, glossy ibis, lesser flamingo, spur-winged goose, and white pelican; The papyrus swamps are home to the rare shoebill stork and the Tanzania masked weaver.
Lake Natron an alkaline lake located in northern Tanzania contiguous to the Tanzania – Kenyan border in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, in Ngorongoro and Monduli Districts within the Arusha Region. The lake is quite shallow, less than three meters (10 feet) deep, and varies in width depending on its water level and surrounded by Rift Valley escarpments and volcanic mountain Oldoinyo Lengai and other small mountains as well as number of hills.
It is the only regularly breeding area for Lesser Flamingos in East Africa and furthermore, it offers feeding and roosting opportunities for an estimated 100,000 individuals of other species of water birds many of them Pale arctic migrants. In the lake margins springs and a few perennial streams are a source of freshwater for Maasai, cattle, wildlife and flamingos that co-exists in this huge alkaline lake basin.
Lake Eyasi, located south of the Serengeti National Park and immediately southwest of the Ngorongoro Crater in the Ngorongoro Highlands area of Tanzania is one of several lakes on the floor of the Great Rift Valley and it lies west of Lake Manyara and approximately 95 miles (155 km) southwest of Arusha. At an elevation of about 3,400 feet (1,040 m), the lake covers an area of about 400 square miles (1,050 square km) and occupies the bottom of a bowl like depression in a region of volcanic activity.
The walls of the lake are purple lava enclosing a broad expanse of white alkaline shallows with some fresh water at depths below 33 feet (10 m). The lake has no outlet; its main inlet is the Sibiti River on the southwest. The lake drains an area of about 25,300 square miles (65,500 square km). Greater and lesser flamingos inhabit the lake shore in vast flocks.
Straddling the border between Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique, the 31,000 sq. km, this Lake also called Lake Malawi and is East Africa’s third largest lake of its most beautiful.