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

Wildlife And Birds

Mana Pools National Park is brimming with wildlife as animals are drawn to the waters of the park during the dry months. You are bound to see many elephant, hippos, crocodiles, zebra and interesting antelope. Lions and leopards are frequently seen tailing behind the many antelope and waiting for their next hunt. Wild dogs, honey badgers and many more interesting creatures can be spotted while on walks in the park. Be sure to keep a look out for the birds as there are numerous different species to see!
List Of Animals
  • Elephant
  • Cheetah
  • Hippo
  • Buffalo
  • Hyena

Rare Animals

  • 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).

Endangered Birds

  • 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

All foreign visitors must have a passport, with a minimum of 3 blank pages, that is valid for at least 6 months after their visit. Foreign visitors of most nationalities may obtain a visa upon arriving in the country. You can check whether you can obtain a visa upon arrival or if you need to apply for one in advance here.

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.

Travel Insurance

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.

What To Pack

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.