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Mana Pools National Park Your Ultimate Safari Guide.

Mana Pools National Park

Paddling down the river was both relaxing, terrifying, and invigorating. One minute we’d be paddling down a beautiful channel and the next we were face to face with a grumpy hippo. After surviving the daunting canoe safari we arrived in Mana Pools. Here we stayed at our first Wilderness Safaris properties Little Ruckomechi & Ruckomechi.

While staying in Mana Pools we were overwhelmed by the sense of wilderness. It seems to be a park lost in time. On game drives, we would drive over varied terrain only to catch a glimpse of eland moving through the bush or a waterbuck leaping over a fallen tree. And it was only five minutes after checking into camp that we had a herd of elephants right outside our tent.

The elephants of Mana Pools are abundant and they’re impossible to miss. They are ever-present in the camps of Mana Pools. We often found an elephant comfortably walking over decks and munching on the trees around our tent. Some of our closest experiences with these mesmerizing giants came about in this park.

Their presence in camp was palpable and I spent much of my time with those that ambled into camp. It is apparent that they are aware of the camp and feel comfortable at all times with the guests and staff. This made for a humbling safari in a stunning part of the world.

Mana Pools Wildlife

Mana Pools National Park is home to many of the standard large wildlife throughout Africa. Four of the “Big Five,” animals call the park home, which excludes the Rhino. As mentioned, elephants are abundant and often frequent the safari lodges. Our lodge, Ruckomechi, had some very curious elephants who interrupted meals on the back deck to take a sample from the lunch buffet. Other park favorites include lions, leopards, and a few packs of African wild dogs.

There are a few notable animals that are absent from the park due to the terrain. Giraffe and Wildebeest are absent from the park and there is a debate as to why these two animals have never made it into the Zambezi Valley, but it has been speculated that they cannot make it over the Zambezi Escarpment.

Mana Pools Landscape

The 2,500 sq km park sits on the banks of the Zambezi offering view access to islands, sandbanks, and pools. Although, the park is limited in size it is encompassed by safari areas and concessions that amount to around 10,500 sq km of unfenced wilderness.

The Zambezi River is the focal point of the park and wildlife can be found in abundance along its banks. Hippos and crocodiles can be seen just about everywhere and a wide variety of aquatic birds are regulars.

Canoe Safaris on the Zambezi

The mighty Zambezi is the fourth largest river in Africa and cuts through six countries on its way to the Indian Ocean. There are many national parks and safari concessions that stake their claim along this famous river. However, the Zambezi Valley is unique in its large wilderness area as the Zambezi divides both the Lower Zambezi and Mana Pools national parks. This large wilderness creates a biodiversity hotspot.

That’s why canoe safaris are a popular day activity for lodges along the Zambezi River. For the more adventurous there is the option to take a multi-day canoe trip down the river. We were fortunate enough to experience this one of a kind trip with the experts at Nature ways Safaris.

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