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Mana Pools National Park

Why visit Mana Pools?

Further down the Zambezi from Lake Kariba is Mana Pools,  another of Zimbabwe’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it’s absolutely stunning.  It’s rugged and remote, yet beautiful at the same time. The landscape which runs inland from the Zambezi river houses riverine forest, woodland and has a riverbank lined with huge shady trees.  The sparse undergrowth and the shady trees make this prime country for a walking safari and the Zambezi river lends itself perfectly to canoe safaris.  Of course the traditional 4x4 game drives are also on offer here.
Water is always a magnet for wildlife and Mana Pools is no exception with a large elephant population, herds of large buffalo and predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog, this is a safari enthusiast’s paradise.
Reasons to visit Mana Pools include:

  • Mana Pools NP covers an area of 2000km square and is an area well known for walking safaris
  • Mana means 4 in Shona and there are indeed 4 main pools formed over the years by water methodically wearing the earth away.  Each has a name – Main, Chine, Long and Chisambuk. 
  • Some areas are difficult to reach which in simple terms results in beautiful, unspoilt wilderness
  • Water is always a magnet for wildlife.  Huge elephants return to this area each year. They are known to stand on their back legs to reach the protein rich seed pods in the trees, quite a sight. 
  • Mana Pools is home to many predators including lion, leopard, cheetah and the very efficient pack hunters, wild dogs – also known in Zimbabwe as painted hunting dogs
  • It’s worth exploring at least part of the river by canoe. You will see pods of hippo, crocodiles and other wildlife as it comes to the shore to drink. 
  • Birding in Mana is excellent too, there are some local favourites such as the banded snake eagle, collared palm thrush, racket-tailed roller and the purple-banded sunbird.
  • Scenery in Mana is beautiful, particularly by the river as you look across to Zambia and the shimmering hills of the Rift Valley escarpment.

When to visit Mana Pools

Mana Pools is best visited after the rains from April to November/December.  Most of the safari camps in the area close between mid-December to April.  During the rains the wildlife moves inland, as there is more water available and they do not have to rely on the river and the pools. As the year progresses, and water sources dry up,  Mana Pools becomes a haven for wildlife once again.

How to do it

Mana Pools is not the easiest place to get to, but this remoteness is part of the attraction.  The best way to get there is to fly to one of the airstrips in light aircraft. It doesn’t make it a particularly cheap destination but it is worth it if it’s within your budget.

Accommodation in Mana Pools

Most of the accommodation is along the shoreline and ranges from more permanent type camps such as Ruckomechi to those with a mobile safari camp feel.  Inland is a particular favourite of ours, Kanga Camp where you can experience an ‘armchair safari’ – let the wildlife come to you as you sit on the deck in front of Kanga Pan, the only water source for miles around in dry season.


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Mana Pools National Park accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT + 2 hours

Flight time:

Flights from UK to Harare or Victoria Falls are usually via Johannesburg and can take 12+ hours, although once the new Victoria Falls airport is fully operational there may be an option of direct flights – watch this space.

Language: English is the official language of Zimbabwe. Shona or Ndebele are also widely spoken by the majority of the population.

Visas:

Visas are required for UK passport holders and can be obtained on entry into Zimbabwe.  

Health:

Malaria is a risk in many areas of Zimbabwe.

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