Mana Pools

Mana Pools, with its beautiful wooded floodplains is synonymous with canoeing safaris and wilderness game-viewing.

Overview

Mana Pools National Park’s focal point of any safari is the magical Zambezi River: its islands, the surrounding flood plains and the gorgeous forests of mahogany, wild fig, ebony and baobab trees on its floodplains.

Mana Pools is famous for its large numbers of elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, and eland. They concentrate along the river when the inland waterholes dry up, especially in the dry winter months of June to October. Leopard and lion are here, but not seen as regularly.

This World Heritage Site is one of the least developed national parks in Zimbabwe. Indeed this overwhelming sense of wilderness offers much of the attraction, alongside its wildlife.

Earlier on in the dry season there is a lot of surface water. That means less predator activity around the safari camps. This is the ideal time for walking safaris. As you can get close to the wildlife in an uncontrived way.

Mana Pools has also been synonymous with canoeing safaris for many years. Choose between a morning kayak activity at a riverside camp, or taking a multi-day canoe trip with an experienced and qualified river guide.

Features

Why you may love it

  • Stunning water and wildlife combination.
  • Dry season is great for walking safaris.
  • Multi day Canoe Trails is a real African adventure as your river guide carefully steers around pods of hippos. Sleep out in proper dome tents on the banks of the river with the sounds of the African night all around. Combine canoeing with walking safaris into the interior. These canoe trips run from May to October when it’s cooler.

Explore the Mana Pools map

When to visit Mana Pools

Mid-November to March

Summer in Mana Pools

Mana Pools is effectively closed for safari visitors during the summer rainy season as the Zambezi River spills out over its floodplain where the camps are located. One or two the lodges remain open in November and even December. But temperatures are seriously high.
AVG RAINFALL 180 mm
MAX TEMP 30 ℃ / 86 ℉
MIN TEMP 20 ℃ / 68 ℉

April to May

Autumn in Mana Pools

This is the start of the safari season in the Mana Pools as the camps start opening at various times. The landscape is still green and lush but the grass is still quite long so game-viewing is a little tricky. The sunsets are superb as the skies are clearer. This is quite a mosquito time of year so ensure you have taken malaria prophylactics and cover up at night. Because of this, Mana Pools safari prices are keen during this time.
AVG RAINFALL 60 mm
MAX TEMP 29.5 ℃ / 85 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

June to August

Winter in Mana Pools

Traditionally this is the best time to visit Mana pools as the dry season continues. The bush becomes less dense and the animals flock to the Zambezi River to drink. The days are sunny and dry and the Malaria risk declines as there are fewer mosquitos around.
AVG RAINFALL 1 mm
MAX TEMP 26 ℃ / 79 ℉
MIN TEMP 11 ℃ / 52 ℉

September to mid-November

Spring in Mana Pools

It is hot, hot, hot in late September and October prior to the start of the summer rains. October is known as suicide month here! So make sure you are comfortable with heat! Game-viewing remains very good though the very high temperatures in late October make for uncomfortable game-viewing and – depending on the previous summer rains - some distressed animals.
AVG RAINFALL 35 mm
MAX TEMP 35 ℃ / 95 ℉
MIN TEMP 21 ℃ / 70 ℉

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Milandi’s review of Nyamatusi Camp

Nyamatusi Camp is a beautiful, well run camp. The flight from Bumi to Mana Pools was approx 30 minutes. The pilot was kind enough to take us over the Kariba Dam wall. On arrival at the airstrip, it is a 40 minute drive to the camp. During the dry season, you can also enjoy a boat cruise from Chirundu airstrip.

The camp is exquisitely decorated and is the only camp to offer both air-conditioning (much appreciated) and private plunge pools (likewise). it offers beautiful scenery with floodplains, the wide Zambezi River and the mountains on the Zambian side as a backdrop. We enjoy stunning evocative sundowners by the river.

The food was by far the best food on the trip and the hosting was very friendly and attentive.

But it was late October and it was HOT! It was 42C (110F) . Mana Pools was in the middle of one of the worst droughts in 40 years. So we didn’t see a lot of game, but this massive heat was a huge factor. They are currently having to bring in hay for the animals, but the drought is still desperate.

However assuming you visited prior to say mid September, this camp would definitely deliver on the true Mana Pool experience.  Their activities include game walks (which are very hot in October), game drives, canoeing safaris, fishing on catch and release basis and boating (non-motorized).

The rooms are very far apart and there is a strict no walking policy because of the presence of elephants all around. You radio in for a ride to the main building.

Cedarberg : Milandi Joubert
Did you know
  • AcclaimUNESCO World Heritage Site
  • NameMana means FOUR in the Shona Language