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Mana Pools National Park

A World Heritage Site and Wilderness that is Unique, Priceless and Irreplaceable.

Elephants in Mana Pools National Park

Elephants feed on Acacia pods by a channel of the Zambezi River

Mana Pools National Park in the Middle Zambezi Valley covers an area of 2196 square kilometres (848 square miles) extending from the Zambezi River in the north to the escarpment in the south. A timeless wilderness considered by many to be the jewel of Zimbabwe's National Parks and certainly a favourite of ours.

Climate

Winter Months - Mid May, June, July, early August, the days are warm with beautiful blue skies, the evenings are cool.
Summer months - September through to May. Hot to extremely hot days and warm evenings.
Rainy season - Generally between mid November and April although the occasional rain can occur out of these dates.

Best Game Viewing Months

August, September, October and early November are by far the best months for game viewing in this park. Water inland has become extremely scarce so the animals naturally migrate to the bountiful river and the natural pools of Mana.

During the rainy season from late November through to April, a completely different park emerges to that of the dry season. Parched savannahs turn into lush fields with an abundance of grazing. Many animals disperse inland and game viewing becomes limited although resident animals do remain. This is the green season and is when the park and all the animals rejuvenate themselves, feeding like crazy on the abundance of food. Newly born animals can be seen everywhere and the birdlife is absolutely prolific. Access by road is often limited.

An area of outstanding natural beauty and phenomenal wildlife - here the Zambezi River, flowing slowly eastwards for thousands of years, has left behind the remains of old river channels forming small seasonal ponds and pools spread over an area of several hundred square kilometres. These extend several kilometres back from the river where, on fertile terraces huge mahogany and acacia trees cast luxuriant shade.

Today Mana Pools, one of Zimbabwe's four World Heritage Sites, is the stage for one of Africa's greatest natural spectacles - a classic theatre of the wild, attracting hordes of animals during the long, hot African summer, drawn by the abundance of water and the lush grazing along its banks.

Mana Pools Wildlife

Thousands of zebra, kudu, eland, impala, and other antelope species flourish among which the lion and the leopard, the hyena and wild dogs find easy pickings.

The sanctuary, one of the only two pockets of nyala in the country, is also home to 16 000 buffalo and more than 12 000 elephant - Zimbabwe's largest concentration after Hwange. Many female elephants in the region do not have tusks and are much more aggressive than those with tusks.

Along the river bank where one of the greatest varieties of bird life in the world flourishes, hippos warm themselves in the morning sun. Later in the day, they keep cool by remaining all but submerged in the river, sharing their hidden sandbanks with silent and almost unseen crocodiles.

More than 380 bird species  are enough to draw the breath of any ornithologist. Its banks flutter with Goliath herons, Egyptian and Spurwing geese, cormorants, storks, brilliantly coloured bee-eaters, and kingfishers.

Goliath Heron
(source - Edward Selfe Photography)
Bee-eaters
(source - 4elements.co.za)
Giant Kingfisher
(source - Wildlife Photography Africa)

Vultures, plovers, Nyasa lovebird, yellow-spotted nicator, white-collared pratincole, Livingstone's flycatcher, banded snake-eagle, and the cliché symbol of Africa, the black and white fish eagle, haunt the riverine forest and mopane woods.

In the river, tiger fish, bream, tilapia, vundu, nkupi, chessa, cornish jack and lung fish sport and prey upon one another.

The richness of the forest trees and plants is the vital link in Mana Pools chain of continuity. The apple ring acacia keeps the elephant herds alive during the fierce October-November dry season. These handsome trees paint a unique an picturesque landscape which this park is famous for.  


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