Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools National Park is a World Heritage Site and one of the only parks in the world where you can walk through the wilderness without a guide! Explore this beautiful land and come across hippos, crocodiles, elephants as well as exciting predators such as lions and leopards. The waters of the Zambezi River overflow and fill the four main pools, which creates beautiful scenic spots where animals can graze. This wonderful, untouched wilderness is a unique place to visit for a very special African safari experience.
Why Visit Mana Pools National Park?
Experience an African safari like no other as you travel on foot through the park without a guide. Mana Pools National Park offers this unique and incredible experience but remember that the animals are still wild and you need to be cautious! This is a thrilling adventure for anyone looking for an authentic journey in an African wilderness. However, guides are still available for walking safaris if you prefer to journey on the safer side.
The park is filled with lush forest and vegetation as there is plenty of water from the Zambezi River to keep the land fresh. This results in numerous species of wildlife and birds crowding the park in search of water during the dry months. Mana Pools allows you to immerse yourself within the nature as you canoe or walk through the park and see the animals from a whole new perspective.
Pros And Cons
- Magnificent Zambezi River
- Great wildlife viewing
- Wold-famous safari guides
- Excellent destination for birdwatching
- Walking and canoe safaris
- Great place for fishing trips
- There are fewer roads to explore than in other parks
- The park is more inaccessible than some of the areas and you will need a 4x4
Best Time To Go
The best time to visit Mana Pools National Park is from June to October which is during the dry season. Many animals can easily be seen as they gather around the pools and the waters of the Zambezi River. The dry season is from April to October, which is also winter time so temperatures are lower than in the wet season. Days are clear and sunny reaching temperatures of about 82˚F (28˚C) and the nights are cool averaging 54˚F (12˚C). October can get extremely hot with temperatures sometimes exceeding 104˚F (40˚C) which, in addition to the humidity, can be quite uncomfortable. There is a lower risk for malaria during these months as there are less mosquitoes.
The wet season is from November to March. Rainfall is very frequent from November to February, but doesn't usually last all day. You may only visit the park for walking and canoe safaris during the wet season as the roads are not safe to drive on. Temperatures during the day average 86˚F (30˚C) with nights of about 66˚F (19˚C). The park is greener with thicker vegetation and newborn animals can be seen during these months. This is also the best time for bird watching as migratory birds can be found.
For more details about when to visit broken down by months/seasons see our Zimbabwe Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Start your African Adventure
9 Days Brilliant Zimbabwe Safari Honeymoon
Amorous Safari in Zimbabwe! A honeymoon is the celebration of one of the most special milestones in your life, and planning that perfect honeymoon can be a daunting task. Intricate Africa Safaris will organize your dream honeymoon with the carefully selected lodges in locations that will do justice to your special occasion. Come and celebrate your endless romance in Zimbabwe with Intricate Africa Safaris Accommodation. This safari honeymoon includes 8 nights' accommodation in Somalisa, Ruckomechi Camp, and Victoria Falls Hotel.
Shaded by a large grove of acacia and mahogany trees, the camp accommodates guests in ten spacious and beautifully decorated en-suite tents, including two family rooms, all of which overlook the river. The central dining, bar and lounge areas face the escarpment, and there is a separate pool deck swimming and sunbathing, and an inviting fire deck for convivial evenings under the African skies. A romantic star-bed situated nearby overlooking a productive waterhole completes the Ruckomechi experience.
Victoria Falls Hotel
Victoria Falls Hotel is a grand 111 year old 5 Star hotel that boasts epic views of the Victoria Falls Bridge and the magnificent Victoria Falls themselves. On arrival at the Victoria Falls Hotel you are greeted by the friendly staff. As you enter the building your senses are splashed with grand splendor as rich teak furnishings and century old picture frames take you back in time to the early 19th Century. The Hotel is steeped in history as it was originally built in 1904. Enjoy a Gin and Tonic or the famous Victoria Falls Hotel High Tea on the wide veranda as you take in the epic views of the bridge and the magnificent Victoria Falls themselves. Standing on the terrace you look straight down the Batoka Gorge at the bridge with the spray of the falls in the background. The Victoria Falls Hotel has a private pathway that leads to the Victoria Falls which is an easy 10-minute walk away
Namibia & Zambezi - NBa15
A variety filled journey covering the must see highlights of Namibia including the Zambezi region at an affordable price. Accommodation is comfortable, often in stunning locations. Zambia’s yellow fever status has been amended and as such travel to and from Livingstone does not require a certificate. In addition the uni-visa between Zimbabwe and Zambia makes travel between both sides of the Falls easy.
Wildlife And Birds
- Cheetah, wild dog
Frequently Seen Animals
- Elephant, hippo, buffalo, zebra, hyena
With over 350 recorded species of bird, Mana Pools is a great birding destination. Brightly coloured kingfishers and bee-eaters can be found along the river's edge along with many herons and storks. Proud African fish eagles prey over the waters while vultures feast on the lions' leftovers. Many migratory bird species can be found in the wet months (November - April).
- Hooded vulture, African skimmer
Getting There And Safety
You can fly to Mana Pools National Park on charter planes - usually from Kariba. Charter flights and transportation to and from airports are often included in safari packages so check with your operator. Mana Pools National Park can also be reached by driving from Harare or Chirundu.
If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Zimbabwe
If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Zimbabwe
The vaccinations recommended for Zimbabwe are cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. There is also a risk for malaria, especially from October - May, so anti-malarial drugs are advised as well as bringing insect repellent.
It is better to check with your local medical authority which vaccinations are required.
For more details about vaccinations see our Zimbabwe Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Zimbabwe. The country lacks good health care facilities so if anything happens you would need to be airlifted out of the country and taken to South Africa to be treated. Ensure you are covered for any activities you may partake in, delays, luggage cover, cancellations, full medical coverage, repatriation and emergency air evacuation.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.
Pack clothes for both warm and cool weather as it can get very hot during the day and quite cold at night depending on what time of the year you go. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours and white. Other essential items are a hat, sunglasses, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, first aid kit, binoculars and camera.
For more details on what to pack see our safari packing list.
Are there places to refuel within the park?
No, fuel is not available within the park so be sure to fill up beforehand. Roads within the park are often closed during the wet season (December to March) so you may not be able to enter the park with your vehicle and will have to travel through the park on foot.
Are there shops in the park?
No, there are no shops within the park so be sure to pack all your supplies beforehand.
Are unguided walking safaris safe?
While unguided walking safaris are allowed within the park, the animals are still wild and very dangerous. Follow the appropriate safety precautions with regard to the animals and you should have no problems. Guides are still highly recommended.