Hidden up in the far north corner of Zimbabwe on the southern banks of the Zambezi River, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a haven for African Wild Dogs, or Painted Dogs and the park has the highest population of the species in Zimbabwe. In fact, this is where David Attenborough and his BBC wildlife series, Dynasties, followed a pack of the “Painted Wolves” allowing for a more intimate understanding of these wildly misunderstood and endangered creatures.
Mana Pools also has the highest concentration of hippos and crocodiles in Zimbabwe. The eponymous pools are of course where these snapping and yawning creatures reside. “Mana” is the Shona word for the number 4, and 4 large pools filled by the flowing Zambezi River give the park its name.
The landscape at Mana Pools is incredibly beautiful, the forest of Acacia and Albida trees give way to flat, expansive floodplains that eventually rise up into mountains off in the distance. It’s these floodplains that set a scene for easy and relaxed game viewing, where antelope such as impala, kudu and eland are grazing the short bushes.
In the forest, you’ll find the elephants and Painted Wolves, amongst others. Mana Pools is the home of the only elephants in the world who move their massive weight to their hind legs so that they can “stand” and reach the top of the Albida trees and their deliciously succulent branches.
During the dry season, Mana Pools is the place to be. Abundant wildlife enters the park in search for water and it’s the famous pools that quench their thirst. This is an opportunity for some excellent game viewing, even as the park becomes a bit more brown and dusty than its usual lush shades of emerald and olive, found in the green season.
Mana Pools is also the only park in Zimbabwe that allows self-guided safari walks. However, for the less seasoned safari traveller, being accompanied by a guide is highly recommended. Not only because they are experts in safety in the wild environment but because they know so much about the flora and fauna that it’s amazing to hear about why specific animals or plants do the things they do.
The wildlife in Mana Pools is quite unperturbed by the human visitors, this allows for very intimate and up-close experience in the bush, whether it be a walking safari or a game drive. It’s also an excellent park for water based safaris, specifically canoeing on the Zambezi and thrillingly navigating past those numerous crocs and hippos.
Because of its remote location, travellers need to go the extra mile to reach this alluring destination. Our Grand Zimbabwe and Mana Pools safari lets travellers experience the best of Zimbabwe and makes getting to Mana Pools much easier. Mana Pools can also be added as an extension to our Best of Hwange Safari. It’s an incredibly special park that sparks a desire in its visitors to return once more. If you haven’t been yet, now is the time to go!