Mana Pools is the wild child of the Zambezi Valley, remote and untamed but supporting a beautiful mix of floodplains, woodlands and riverine forest. Forming the park’s northern border is the broad Zambezi River, its backdrop the mountains of the Rift Valley Escarpment over the river in neighbouring Zambia.
The name 'Mana' means four in the local Shona language and refers to the four large pools situated in the interior of the park. This abundance of water acts as a magnet for all manner of wildlife: elephant, buffalo and waterbuck graze on the wide green floodplains; predators such as lion, leopard and wild dog are often seen; and the rivers and pools are home to large populations of hippo and crocodile. The bird watching is superb - highlights include fish eagles, many water birds and colourful clouds of carmine bee-eaters.
Visitors can go on day and night game drives and guided nature walks but what Mana Pools is best known for are its river safaris - paddling down the slow-flowing Zambezi in a two-man canoe. These canoe safaris can last just a couple of hours but for the truly adventurous traveller we’d recommend the 4-day Mana Pools Trail, a thrilling mix of canoeing, walking and camping alongside the river in comfortable tents with hot bucket showers and 3-course dinners served on linen table cloths at the end of the day.
If that sounds a bit too wild for your tastes, then take your pick from one of the handful of lodges scattered around the park. Our favourite Mana Pools safari accommodation are the thatched chalets at Ruckomechi Camp, set right on the bank of the Zambezi, or the intimate Kanga Bush Camp, tucked away in a remote private concession deep within the park.