This UNESCO-protected national park created in northern Zimbabwe’s section of the Lower Zambezi Valley, is an impressive and very wild landscape made up of 2000 km2 of pristine vegetation and the dramatic Rift Valley escarpment. Much of the parkland is inaccessible unless you go on foot, helping to preserve the area’s enviable remoteness and untouched natural beauty.
“Mana” meaning “four” in the local Shona language, refers to the four large pools that lie inland from the Zambezi River. The pools are remnant ox-bow lakes, that the Zambezi River carved thousands of years ago, as it changed its course northwards.
A safari here is one where the pools attract a profusion of aquatic birds as well as herds of elephants, hippopotamus, and Nile crocodiles. Predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena are mostly found in the open woodland areas of the reserve, but can be very secretive and not that easy to spot without an expert tracker. The low scrub makes Mana an excellent walking safari destination and the pools, perfect for canoe-based game spotting.
Mana Pools is in fact part of a larger, boundary-less area that stretches across the north of Zimbabwe west from the Kariba Dam to the border with Mozambique. Animals wander freely between these and even across to Zambia’s Lower Zambezi parklands.
When to go
It is best to visit in the dry season from June to October.