Amazing Mana Pools Safari Adventure in Zimbabwe

Mana Pools Canoe Safari Adventure in Zimbabwe

Mana Pools National Park, in northern Zimbabwe, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s best-preserved natural ecological areas.

This remote, beautiful game reserve offers a unique safari destination known for its rugged beauty, abundant wildlife, and the opportunity for walking and canoe safaris along the Zambezi River.

In this blog post, we will explore the reasons to visit Mana Pools, the various activities and experiences available, and the accommodation options to make the most of your visit.

Mana Pools Location and Accessibility

Mana Pools National Park is in the Zambezi Valley, bordering Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. While the park’s remote location adds to its allure, it also means getting there requires some planning.

Visitors can reach Mana Pools by 4×4 vehicle, plane, or boat, each offering a distinctive perspective of the stunning surroundings.

However, due to the challenging road conditions, use a 4×4 vehicle with an experienced driver or fly-in safaris from major cities.

Wildlife and Biodiversity

a lion in Mana Pools
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One of the main draws of Mana Pools is its incredible wildlife. The park has numerous animals, including elephants, lions, leopards, and the endangered African wild dog. Expect large herds of buffaloes, elephants, and many antelope species.

The park’s name, “Mana,” means “four” in the local Shona language, referring to the four large pools that are remnants of ancient oxbow lakes carved out by the Zambezi River.

These pools attract an abundance of wildlife, particularly during the dry season. Mana Pools has over 450 bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.

The park’s aquatic wildlife is equally fascinating, with Zimbabwe’s largest concentrations of hippos and crocodiles found in the Zambezi River and its surrounding pools.

Canoe Safaris

elephant in Mana Pools
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One of the most exhilarating ways to explore the area is on a canoe safari. These multi-day adventures allow you to navigate the Zambezi River and observe wildlife from a unique perspective.

As you paddle along the river, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter elephants, hippos, and crocodiles up close, all while taking in the stunning scenery.

The canoe safaris vary in length and style, with options ranging from luxury to more adventurous itineraries. Regardless of your choice, you’ll camp under the stars each night.

Walking Safaris

Mana Pools - birdwatchers paradise
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In addition to canoe safaris, Mana Pools is one of the few national parks in Africa that allows visitors to explore on foot.

Guided walking safaris offer an intimate and immersive experience, allowing you to track animals and learn about the intricate details of the ecosystem from knowledgeable guides.

Walking safaris provide a unique opportunity for photography enthusiasts to capture stunning wildlife at eye level.

The thrill of encountering elephants, lions, or wild dogs on foot is an experience that will stay with you forever. The guides’ expertise ensures your safety while maximizing your chances of unforgettable wildlife sightings.


Mana Pools offers a range of accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets. From rustic campsites to luxury lodges, there is something for everyone.

Many lodges and camps are situated along the banks of the Zambezi River, offering stunning views and the chance to spot wildlife from your deck.

For a truly immersive experience, consider staying at one of the park’s bush camps, such as Kanga Camp, Vundu Camp, or Ruckomechi Camp.

Seasonal Considerations

The best time to visit Mana Pools for game viewing is during the dry season, which runs from June to October.

During this time, the vegetation thins out, making it easier to spot wildlife as they gather around the remaining water sources. Note that September and October can be hot and dry.

If you prefer a greener landscape and don’t mind a few rain showers, consider visiting during the shoulder months of April, May, or November; wildlife sightings may be slightly more challenging.

Activities and Experiences

stargazing under Mana Pools skies
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In addition to canoe and walking safaris, Mana Pools offers a variety of other activities. Game drives in 4×4 safari vehicles allow you to cover more ground and observe a wider range of animals.

For those interested in birding, the park’s diverse habitats support an incredible variety of species, from colorful bee-eaters to majestic African fish eagles.

Fishing enthusiasts can try catching the legendary tiger fish in the Zambezi River. This thrilling experience is best enjoyed between August and November when the water levels are low, and the fish are most active.

As the sun sets over the Zambezi River, take a moment to marvel at the star-studded night sky. With minimal light pollution, Mana Pools offers some of the best stargazing opportunities in Africa.

Travel Tips and Preparation

When planning your visit to Mana Pools, there are a few essential things to keep in mind:

  • Health: Malaria is prevalent in the region. Consult your doctor about appropriate prophylaxis and watch out for mosquitoes.
  • Packing: Given the remote location, it’s essential to pack wisely. Bring comfortable, lightweight clothing, a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Don’t forget to pack a good pair of binoculars and a camera to capture your memories.
  • Safety: The guides and camp staff will ensure your safety. Respect the wildlife and follow the park’s rules. Always maintain a safe distance from animals and never approach them on foot without a qualified guide.


Mana Pools National Park is a destination for those seeking adventure, wildlife encounters, and the beauty of Zimbabwe’s natural landscapes.

With essential travel tips including being well-equipped and respecting wildlife distances, visitors can make the most of their experience in this stunning safari destination.

Mana Pools is celebrated for its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife, including elephants, lions, and rare wild dogs, but faces threats from pollution and relaxed fishing regulations.

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