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Mana Pools National Park

Tucked into the northern reaches of Zimbabwe, Mana Pools National Park is a spectacular wilderness which stretches along the southern bank of the Zambezi River. To the west lies the expansive Lake Kariba and across the Mozambique border to the east is Lake Cora Bassa. The mighty Zambezi makes its way between these two great lakes, forming the border between Zimbabwe and her northerly neighbour, Zambia. Mana means ‘four’ in the local Shona language and refers to the four large pools that still lie within the abandoned river channels running through the interior of the park. The vast expanses of water and the rich food along the alluvial floodplain attracts enormous numbers of wildlife to the area, including elephant, buffalo and waterbuck who graze on the verdant floodplains, as well as over 350 bird species.

Photographic tourism has special significance here with a magical mix of endless grassy floodplains, riverine forest, thick woodlands, escarpment mountains and impressive flora such as mahogany, fig and ebony trees that flank the Zambezi River. During the dry season these huge trees are a shady relief for abundant herds of plains game creating an idyllic river scene. During the rains (from November to March) most of the animals disperse away from the river to the escarpment, but the rains bring with them an explosion of flowers, emerald green grass and vines creeping up tree trunks at an almost visible rate. The herds begin to return from around April as the pans in the bush gradually dry up. Large herds of elephants and buffalo can be seen congregating around these pans as the year progresses and the bush gets drier. The dense population of plains game attracts an impressive number of predators with lion, leopard and wild dog being ever present, especially at Chitake Spring where you are likely to be rewarded with incredible sightings of these predators in action. The rich diversity of vegetation attracts a wide range of aquatic and woodland birdlife, including clouds of pink carmine bee-eaters and rare treats such as the elusive Pels fishing owl and African skimmer.

Accommodation is restricted to a handful of unfenced safari lodges and eco-friendly tented camps, and with limited connectivity they create an authentic safari experience, which with the demands of the modern world, are slowly becoming a rarity. Visitors to Mana Pool can enjoy traditional game drive safaris and a wide range of water-based safaris, including a mix of kayaking, boating and canoeing. Mana Pools is also one of Africa’s best national parks for walking safaris as the animals are extremely relaxed with people on foot. The park is mostly accessible by light aircraft flights making it easy to combine with destinations such as Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba and Hwange National Park. Mana pools is a timeless wilderness considered by all who travel here a Jewel of Zimbabwe and a Treasure for Africa.

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