Mana Pools in northern Zimbabwe is one of the few wilderness areas where it's possible to explore on foot (either guided or on your own) or by canoe. Roads are few and far between so game driving is by 4x4. It's a pristine, unspoilt paradise, with abundant game, spectacular scenery and an incredible variety of birds.
- UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Explore canoe trails along the Zambezi
- Guided walking safaris
- Authentic, rustic African safari camps
- Excellent birding and game viewing
- Remote and uncrowded safari destination
- Huge herds of elephant and buffalo
- Rivers teem with hippo and crocodile
- Superb fishing
Mana Pools National Park is situated in the far north of Zimbabwe, in the Zambezi River Valley. It is a remote and beautiful game reserve that is home to some of the most legendary safari guides in Africa and is known for its fantastic canoe trails and walking safari adventures.
Situated right opposite the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, this part of the Zambezi River Valley is home to an impressive variety of species and birds. There are a number of rustic bush camps, some permanent and some seasonal. A number of camps became a bit run-down during Zimbabwe's economic and tourism slump, but in general, the area seems to be recovering well, and it is certainly worth a visit.
Mana Pools is generally warm and hot. The winter season is from mid-May to mid-August, where evenings and early mornings can be chilly at around 12°C (54°F). Days are clear and warm at 28°C (82°F). August to October are the hottest, driest months, with temperatures soaring to between 40°C and 50°C (104°F - 122°F). November usually sees the first rains, which bring high humidity levels in their wake. December to February is the peak rainy season, which usually consists of afternoon thundershowers or a steady drizzle that can last for days. Average temperatures range from 21°C -31°C (70°F -88°F).
March and April see rains slowing down, with evenings and early mornings becoming cooler. Average temperatures 19°C -31°C (66°F - 88°F). It also depends where you are in Mana Pools as the altitude varies greatly; from 335 metres to1,181 metres above sea level (between 1,098 ft and 3,875 ft) which can also change temperatures considerably, getting cooler the higher up you are.
Best time to go
Although the height of the dry season at Mana Pools (July to October) can be unbearably hot for many, it is the best game viewing time. The area literally teems with wildlife as animals congregate around these perennial water sources. That said, Mana Pools is a rewarding destination right throughout the year. It's scenic, remote and offers an incredible outdoor and adventure safari experience.
Mana Pools is renowned for its huge herds of buffalo and elephant. You may also be lucky to see wild dog as there are several resident packs in the area. The waterways are alive with hippo and crocodile. The birdlife is also excellent. The elephants of Mana are renowned for standing on their hind legs to reach up high into the Acacia Albida trees for the protein-rich, apple-peel like pods.
While self-drive is possible (it's a good five- or six-hour drive from Harare), we recommend you use a 4x4 vehicle with an experienced driver. Conditions can be gruelling, especially in the wetter months. Fly-ins from Victoria Falls, Harare and Kariba are usually preferable.
Besides the national park camps, there are some excellent tented safari options, ranging from budget to upmarket. The private lodges have superb guides who will help you explore this compelling, untamed safari destination. We have personally visited many of these camps and areas and can give you unbiased advice on which option(s) would suit you best.
You may also want to look at
This 9-Day Best of Zimbabwe Safari includes three of the most popular destinations in Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls, a 7th Wonder of the Natural World and renowned adventure capital; Hwange National Park, the jewel of Zimbabwe and its largest national park, home to large herds of elephants and healthy wild dog populations; and Mana Pools, World Heritage Site and pristine wilderness. Explore Mana on foot and by boat along its myriad waterways teeming with wildlife.
Our 15-Day Southern Africa Signature Safari is what we consider to be an ideal safari itinerary on a mid-range budget to see the best of Southern Africa within a limited time frame. Take in some of Southern Africa's top destinations – the spectacular Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe; Chobe National Park in Botswana; picturesque Cape Town and the Garden Route; the Kruger National Park and the famous Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa.
Kanga Camp is in one of the most remote sections of the pristine Mana Pools area, a World Heritage Site not far from Chitake Springs. This vast, untouched wilderness is a veritable eden, offering excellent and varied safari experiences. Closed mid-December until 1 April each year.