Located in far northern Zimbabwe, the life-giving power of the mighty Zambezi River makes Mana Pools National Park one of Zimbabwe’s most lush, unspoilt and flourishing regions.
The park takes its name, Mana, from the Shona word meaning ‘four’ and refers to the four large watering holes or pools that are formed by the meandering Zambezi River flowing through the park. These are complemented by a 50km (30mi) long stretch of sandbanks and riverbanks flanked with lush forests with huge trees.
Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the 220 000 hectare (900 square miles) park is known for its striking natural beauty and as one of the continent’s premier game-viewing areas. It is, however, one of the least developed national parks in the entire subregion, and is situated far from all major towns and settlements, giving an incredibly rare feeling of utter remoteness.
Mana is actually part of the 10 500 km2 Parks Wildlife Estate that runs from the Kariba dam to the Mozambique border in the east. This large area has no fences and wildlife is free to roam, even to Zambia to the north, where there are also large wildlife conservation areas set aside.
Mana is home to the biggest concentration of Hippopotamus and Nile Crocodile in the whole of Zimbabwe. Visitors entering the reserve during the dry season can also look forward to excellent sightings of large herds of African Elephant and African Buffalo. Common Eland, Plains Zebra, Chacma Baboons and Waterbuck are also regularly seen in the area. The park is also home to threatened species including the Lion, Cheetah, African Wild Dog and the Brown Hyaena.
Mana Pools was designated a Ramsar wetland of international importance in 2013, and over 380 species of birds have been recorded. Special species include Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Skimmer, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Lilian’s Lovebird, Eastern Nicator, Shelley’s Sunbird, Red-necked Falcon and Western Banded Snake Eagle, along with many others.
Visitors can look forward to an array of activities such as canoe trips, which provide a unique and memorable way for visitors to experience the area’s striking scenic beauty and diverse fauna, while the park’s famous guided walks are a great way to take in the park’s pristine riverine forests. Other popular activities apart from walking include game drives, river cruises, catch-and-release fishing, and searching for dinosaur tracks.