Mana Pools – Zimbabwe (01.04.19)

Dramatic, abundant and fabulously flushed by the life-giving Zambezi River, the Mana Pools National Park offers some of Africa’s most alluring and plentiful wilderness and wildlife experiences.

This extraordinary region, along with the close-to-hand Sapi and Chewore Safari areas, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, plentifully supporting as it does many of Africa’s most threatened species, including elephant, hippo, lion, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, hyena, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, Nile crocodile and over 450 species of bird.

Mana Pools itself, covering a 219,660ha conservation area, is uniquely characterised by the Zambezi’s meanderings, and is also listed as a Ramsar Wetland Area of International Importance.

Whether approaching by road, river or light aircraft, the magnificent river setting, combined with countryside that spreads deep into the heart of Zimbabwe, is breathtaking from the moment you first clap eyes on it. It is particularly impressive from the banks of the Zambezi, which offer a choice of exhilarating boating and kayaking opportunities. Which, when combined with a more conventional 4×4 vehicle safari, allow for some of the most exciting ‘upfront & personal’ wildlife encounters.

Some of my favourites include not only navigating the Zambezi River’s banks and central flows, but also exploring the plentiful inland biosphere with walking safari excursions and starlit night platforms.

Stand by to be seduced on a massive scale. Not only by world class opportunities to observe twilight wildlife, dominated by jaw-dropping sunrises and sunsets, but also by the amazingly close-to-hand daytime wildlife encounters. Highlights of one trip I will remember for ever are: following a herd of submerged elephants as they crossed the river towards the Lower Zambezi at night fall; jumping over a leopard nestled under my safari tent’s platform steps; and hearing the night-time chorus when sleeping in the open under a moonlight sky.

All under the qualified supervision of our camps’ and lodges’ experienced and seasoned safari guides.

I was bowled over at every turn. Every morning magically ushered in a completely new wilderness experience. In my case these included deep throated hippos’ serenades at dawn, African skimmer fly-pasts, bee-eater displays and even a fearless honey badger parade topping the bill.

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