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Situated in the northern region of Zimbabwe, on the southern banks of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park will leave you breathless with its beauty. A paradise for walking and canoeing safaris, Mana Pools is a wildlife-rich, biodiverse wonderland that will delight at every turn.
Mana Pools National Park is located in Zimbabwe along the Zambezi River and the border of Zambia. The park covers an area of 2,612 square miles (6,766 sq km).
This broad plain area generates a series of lakes during the rainy season. As the waters begin to recede, the remaining pools become excellent game viewing locations as wildlife flocks to these natural watering holes. It is these remaining pools that draw the animals and create this spectacular game viewing setting.
The Mana Pools were combined with the Sapi Safari Area and Chewore Safari Area to create a single UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984. It is also classified as a wetland of international importance by Ramsar. The national park area is also contiguous with Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. Unfortunately, it is not easy to travel between the two parks.
The remoteness of the Mana Pools helps travellers engage the true sense of a wilderness experience while also increasing the intrigue and adventure of discovering Africa.
Travelling to Zimbabwe to visit the Mana Pools National Park between the months of July and October are in for a special treat as wildlife tends to congregate near the pools of the floodplains as the dry season dries up watering holes in other areas.
Lion, leopard, hyena, and wild dog are the predators that visitors can hope to experience. Elephant, zebra, buffalo, hippopotamus, and crocodile are some of the more popular game species that visitors can hope to see.
One of the unique features of a Mana Pools experience is the ability to encounter and view wildlife from both the land and water. This gives stunning views of the dramatic landscapes as well as different views and perspectives of the wildlife. This increases your chances of seeing more and different wildlife species.
Access to this remote park is by air charter, 4×4 or boat transfers on the Zambezi River from Chirundu. There are no shops and mobile phone network coverage is very limited.
Accommodation is restricted to a handful of safari lodges, and eco-friendly tented or mobile camps as well as 4 self-catering Parks chalets and a 5-unit tented camp. Camping on the banks of the Zambezi River is a feature of the Mana experience.
The large and attractive Parks public campsite at Nyamepi, with shower and toilet blocks or several remote wilderness campsites that can be booked for exclusive use, dotted along the river with basic “long-drop” facilities.
The National Parks Authority strictly controls entry to the park and prior booking is essential, either through an agent or operator or through the Authority itself.
The reason travels to visit Zimbabwe is almost always for the wildlife and Mana Pools is one of the most coveted places to visit to experience abundant animal life.
Mana Pools is one of Africa’s best places to do walking safaris – the thin vegetation means that visibility is excellent, so you’ll have the chance to get up close to the big game. In addition, the walking guides in the park are among the best in Africa.
Canoeing safaris in Mana Pools are an incredible way to experience raw nature at its best: you spend your days paddling along the Zambezi past pods of hippos and scores of animals drinking on the banks, and at night time you’ll camp under the stars on untouched islands.
1. It’s essential that you book ahead for a stay in Mana Pools, whether you’re going to be staying at a luxury camp or at one of the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s campsites or lodges.
2. The ideal time to visit Mana Pools is during the dry season from June to October when vegetation is at its driest, making wildlife sightings much easier. Many roads Mana Pools are closed the rainy season between November and April. During this period, the best way to see the park is on a canoe safari.
3. It’s highly recommended that you have a 4x4 if you’re self-driving in Mana Pools.
4. While you are allowed to walk without a guide on the floodplain area, it’s not advisable to do it unless you are very experienced in the bush. It’s best to book a guided walking safari instead.
5. The ideal time to visit Mana Pools is during the dry season from June to October when vegetation is at its driest, making wildlife sightings much easier. Many roads Mana Pools are closed the rainy season between November and April. During this period, the best way to see the park is on a canoe safari.