The lower Zambezi Valley is home to the spectacular Mana Pools National Park; Zimbabwe's second World Heritage Site. This area is teeming with wildlife especially during the months of June through to October. The park is popular for canoe trails, as well as walking safaris. It is an adventure safari destination and not for the faint-hearted.
Mana Pools is also known for its abundance and enormous beautiful trees providing shade and making it ideal for walking. The 'pools', for which the park is famous, provide permanent water year-round, attracting an enormous amount of wildlife, including large predator populations.
Close encounters with animals are a part of game drives, while the best way to explore this magnificent park is either on foot or by means of a canoe down the Zambezi River. The best time to visit the park is from May to October; however temperatures can be fairly high towards the latter part of October.
Mana Pools National Park is a World Heritage Site in Zimbabwe, giving it protected status and maintaining it as a wonderful wildlife destination.
The name, Mana Pools, comes from the 4 permanent pools that form in the meandering Zambezi River. The word 'Mana' comes from the local Shona word for 'four'.
This National Park has the country’s biggest concentration of hippos and crocodiles, as well as the large populations of elephant and buffalo, which flock to the permanent pools in the dry winter months.
There are a variety of camps and lodges in the park, ranging from affordable to luxurious, and all offering an exceptional wildlife experience in this very wild region of Zimbabwe.
A Zambezi Canoe Safari offers an adventure of a lifetime where guests will camp and canoe down the spectacular Zambezi River, the 4th largest river and one of the greatest rivers in Africa. Canoeing is a unique experience and no prior canoe experience is necessary.
Goliath Tented Camp is in the heart of Mana Pools National Park and is situated just metres from the rivers edge. The luxury ensuite East African tents are nestled in amongst a grove of Albida and Mahogany trees. Guests here are guided by renowned Maba Pools field ranger, Stretch Ferreira.
Ruckomechi Camp offers privacy and exclusivity in nine luxurious ensuite safari units with indoor and outdoor showers overlooking the open floodplains with the mountains of the Rift Valley escarpment forming a backdrop.
Vundu Tented Camp is set in a beautiful area of the wild and remote Mana Pools World Heritage Site. The highlight of this area is that guests will not encounter anybody else, offering one's own private corner of Africa.
Chikwenya Camp provides a unique location, incredible game viewing opportunities as well as expert guiding in the game rich Mana Pools area. The emphasis at Chikwenya is the serene Zambezi River, vast endless floodplains and the abundance of wildlife.
Kanga Bush Camp overlooks the Kanga Pan, the only source of surface water for a fair distance in every direction, making it a magnet for game, especially in the dry season around September and October when surface water is scarce.
Mana Pools National Park is located in the very north of Zimbabwe on the Zambian border. There are not any human settlements nearby and it is considered a fairly wild part of the country, which is what gives it its unique charm. It is not recommended to self-drivers, particularly during the rainy season, while 4WD are essential year-round for those attempting the drive.
Sun Safaris will arrange for guests to fly into the country at either Harare International Airport or Victoria Falls International Airport. From the airport, there will either be a chartered flight to an airstrip in Mana Pools, or guests will connect with a road transfer to their respective lodges.
Whether one flies or drives to their destination in Mana Pools will depend on the distance from the International Airport to the lodge, and on the condition of the roads (due to weather). All inter-lodge transport will be arranged by hosts, should guests be transferring.
Mana Pools National Park is located in the heart of the Zambezi Valley. The area offers a wide variety of habitats, open floodplains, mopane woodland and riverine forests as well as large acacia and mahogany trees. The canopied albida trees attract elephants with their nutritious pods, which make for good eating.
The area is renowned for large numbers of elephant, buffalo, hippo and eland, especially during the winter when they concentrate along the river. Predators such as lion, leopard and wild dog are all found in the area.
The birdlife is incredible, particularly for both mopane woodland and riverine species with numerous local specials like Collared palm-thrush, Racket-tailed roller and Purple-banded sunbird.
Activities offered in the park usually include wildlife viewing in open game vehicles, as well as on pontoon boats, guided walks and canoe safaris.
In the summer months, which last from November to March, temperatures can climb to 40 degrees Celsius, however, the varying altitudes in the park mean that the temperature can fluctuate from place to place.
Summer also brings the rains, which are usually in the form of afternoon showers, which are followed by sunny skies. Sometimes it rains lightly for a few days, slowly watering the dry earth and producing new vegetation.
In the dry season, which occurs during winter and lasts from around April to October, there is very little rain and a lot of the surface water dries up. The permanent pools that give Mana its name attract mammals and water-dependent herbivores during these dry months making for great game viewing.
The coldest it may get in this area is during the nights and early mornings in winter when the temperatures dip to around 12 degrees, while day time temperatures are warm at about 28.