Mana Pools lies in the northern part of Zimbabwe, and on the southern side of the Zambezi river. After Victoria Falls, the mighty Zambezi flows from Lake Kariba through a huge rift in the earth’s crust: the Lower Zambezi Valley, marking the border with Zambia as it goes down its way to the Indian Ocean – the river was a major route for the trade in ivory and slaves in the past.
A small park with just 2,190km², Mana Pools National Park is part of a larger Parks and Wildlife Estate – from the Kariba Dam in the west, to the Mozambique border in the east – the wildlife moves freely in this area and northwards into Zambia.
Over the millenia, the Zambezi has created islands, channels and sandbanks in the valley, and as it changed its course northwards enabled small ox-bow lakes to shape, thousands of years ago, in the mineral-rich volcanic soils. The name “Mana” means four in the local Shona language, as a reference to the four pools situated around the parks headquarters. Hippopotamus, crocodiles, elephants and a wide variety of aquatic birds are associated with the pools.
Mana Pools national park was been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, even before Victoria Falls, the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, the Khami Ruins and Matobo Hills National Park.
Kanga Pan is set in the most remote part of the world Heritage site, about a 1 hour drive from the Zambezi river. The Kanga Pan area has never been developed and gives you the pure and unspoilt African experience. The area is very diverse and has multiple of open vlei lines, river systems of the Ruckomechi River, and mixed woodland types from mopane woodland to Jesse bushes and riverine forests. Kanga pan is the only known source of water in the area year round, making it a hub for wildlife in the area, particularly during the Dry Season. The area can be best described as an explorer’s paradise especially for walking to untamed areas that are inaccessible by vehicle. The beauty of this area is that you will not encounter anybody else, making it your private Africa.
The dry seasons, starting from June and best in September and October, is the time to visit as large numbers of animals come to the river to drink and graze. The latter season (October) gets very hot for the traveller but is worthwhile accommodating the high temperatures in order to gain some of the best wildlife viewing available in Africa.
The rainy season starts from early November to the end of April: most animals move away from the river towards the escarpment north. Between January and March, many of the roads and a number of camps close, though two airstrips enable visitors to keep exploring. This is a malarial area.
Explore Mana Pools from our semi-permanent camp based inland Kanga Camp or enjoy being closer to the river at our Zambezi Expeditions. The two camps work well in combination to give you an overall experience of Mana Pools.
The privilege of walking alone in an area with dangerous wildlife is quite unique: this is because visibility is good in the open woodland on the old river terraces, reducing the risk for dangerous encounters, and the game is very relaxed about people on foot.
The park is actually closed to motor vehicles during the raining season. Walking safaris offer spectacular views of the Zambezi river backed by the mountains of the Rift Valley Escarpment over the border in Zambia. Though, there is no greater thrill than canoeing the Zambezi past grazing elephants and buffalo, who take little notice as you silently drift by.