Mana-Pools National Park

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Mana-Pools National Park
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Mana-Pools National Park
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Overview

World Heritage Site, Core Area of the Middle-Zambezi Biosphere Reserve, Important Bird Area, and one of the wildest of Zimbabwe's National Parks, situated in the extreme north of the country. Mana Pools National Park, which fronts onto the Zambezi River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - a status it shares with its downstream neighbouring Safari Areas in Sapi and Chewore. This magnificent and extensive wildlife and wilderness complex is widely recognized as one of the finest in Africa.

Magnificent Landscapes

The Park has special significance for photographic tourism. It extends for a distance of some 50ms from the Zambezi escarpment mountains, through the flat floor of the Zambezi valley to the river itself, its focal point being the system of alluvial river terraces, up to 3.5km wide, which flank the Zambezi River along the park's 50 km river frontage. This narrow and fertile strip of land supports mature woodlands of magnificent "Winter-thorn" or "apple-ring" acacia, mahogany, ebony and fig trees. In the dry season, the shady glades beneath these huge trees, are filled with huge concentrations of African wildlife - herds of impala, eland, elephant, zebra, buffalo, waterbuck and kudu - a plentiful supply of prey for the lion, leopard, wild dog, hyaena and other predators and scavengers that inhabit this unique and wonderful place.

The Zambezi River at Mana Pools is a wide, meandering vista, dotted with islands and the shapes of elephants, buffalo and other wildlife wading in the shallows in search of food. From the Zimbabwean side of the river, the high escarpment mountains of Zambia form a spectacular and dramatic backdrop to this idyllic river scene.

Pools, pans and springs

The park takes its name from the pools that still lie in the abandoned river channels that run through the terraces. Mana is said to mean "four", referring to the largest of these pools which hold water all year. Away from the Zambezi, where pools dry up during the dry season, wildlife concentrates around a few inland pans and some springs at the foot of the Zambezi escarpment mountains. The lions lie in wait, knowing that thirsty prey have no option but to drink here, and visitors to places like Chitake Spring are likely to be rewarded with incredible sightings of these predators in action.

Birds

Mana is also a very special place for birds: fish eagles and many species of stork, heron and other water-based fowl are common, scarlet carmine bee-eaters visit in the dry months to nest in colonies in the river banks, and rare treats include the elusive Pels Fishing Owl and the African Skimmer, which nests on sandbanks mid-river.

A wilderness Experience

Mana Pools prides itself on offering visitors a wilderness experience par excellence. Accommodation areas are unfenced and visitors should be aware that wildlife wanders freely through. It is one of the few National Parks where visitors are allowed to walk at their own risk. While this is welcomed by savvy enthusiasts with plenty of bush experience, it is advisable for visitors to be accompanied by an armed and knowledgeable professional guide or a National Parks ranger.

Nature-based Activities

In line with the high quality of the wilderness experience offered in this park, activities in Mana Pools are exclusively nature-based: day-long or extended canoe trips down the Zambezi River, walking, hiking, game viewing, bird watching and, at night, studying the stars in an incredibly clear sky. Limited fishing is allowed, but only from the land. During the safari season (April - October), no motor-boats are not permitted on the Mana Pools river frontage because of noise, pollution and wave action disturbing the wilderness qualities of the park. Boats are permitted only during the rainy season (November - March), but access is not easy by road at this time of year. Near Chitake Spring in the south of the park, remains of dinosaur skeletons have recently been found embedded in deep layers of rock exposed in the eroded bank of a nearby river. These are being investigated by specialists.

Mana-Pools National Park Travel Seasons

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Mana-Pools National Park General Information

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