Mana Pools National Park is a superb seasonal park sitting on the Zimbabwe side of the Zambezi, opposite Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park. It is particularly famous as a walking park, although it also offers game viewing from vehicles and canoes. It is closed from January to March each year due to the rains.
Mana Pools National Park lies at the heart of the Zambezi Valley, where the Zambezi River meanders to the Mozambique border. It is a remote, beautiful place with spectacular views of the broad river, floodplains, riverine woodland and the mountains of the Rift Valley escarpment.
This stretch of the Zambezi River is famous for its four main pools (after which the Park is named: ‘mana’ means ‘four’ in Shona) – Main, Chine, Long and Chisambuk – which are remnants of channels of the river which stopped flowing years ago. These and smaller seasonal pools, dotted further inland, hold water all year round, drawing all manner of wildlife and waterfowl during the dry season.
The ana trees that characterise the floodplain shed their protein-rich pods during this time, providing vital sustenance for many species, particularly elephant. Wildlife viewing is excellent, with large concentrations of buffalo and elephant along the river's edges, while predators such as lion, wild dog and leopard are often sighted. Kudu, zebra, impala and waterbuck feed on the surrounding plains and the grunting of hippo can be heard all day. Birdlife is superb for both woodland and riverine species with numerous local specials such as Black-throated Wattle-Eye, Red-necked Falcon and Eastern Nicator.
Mana Pools: where to stay
There is only one option here, Ruckomechi … which is superb!
AT A GLANCE