Mana Pools National Park Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park


Mana Pools National Park is situated in the northern region of Zimbabwe, covering an area of 2,612 square miles. The park is set along the banks of the Zambezi River and the Zambia border. It offers a rugged wilderness experience due to its pools, as well as its forests of baobab, mahogany, ebonies, and wild figs. The national park has a remote feel to it and attracts less tourist crowd.

After the rainy season ends, Mana Pool creates a series of lakes and attracts a large concentration of animals once the water begins to recede. Thus, the game viewing is incredible as a large number of diverse animals congregate near the park’s water sources. The park is famous for its strong elephant population, as well as sightings of lions and leopards in the wild. The endangered African wild dogs are also found in Mana Pools.

Along with housing a wide range of mammals, it has over 300 vibrant bird species as well as aquatic creatures. Based on its pure wilderness and spectacular topography, Mana Pools National Park is a World Heritage Site. Mana Pools is also one of the best-preserved natural ecological areas.

The park is set in a secluded location and offers unique ways to experience the bush. Visitors have the opportunity on embarking on walking and canoeing safaris in the park to enjoy the plethora of wildlife it has to offer. Mana Pools remains the most untamed, and rewarding national park of Southern Africa.



Location: Zimbabwe

Nearest Airport: The nearest airport to Mana Pools National Park is the Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) and the Harare International Airport (HRE)

How to reach: From Harare or Victoria Falls by road or flight

Famous for: Big Four animals, African wild dogs, huge elephant herds, watering holes or Mana pools, canoeing safaris, walking safaris

Months Open: All year

Best time to visit: June to October



African Big Four

Rare African wild dogs

Herds of elephants and pods of hippos

Pools at Mana

Over 300 species of birds

Zambezi River teeming with crocodiles


The word ‘Mana’ means ‘four’ in Shona, a Bantu language spoken by the Shona people of Zimbabwe. It refers to the four massive pools found in the park that are vestiges of the mighty River Zambezi. In 1984, Mana Pools was combined with the Chewore and the Sapi Safari Area to create a single UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2013, Mana Pools National Park was designated as a Ramsar wetland of international importance. Mana Pools is also adjacent to the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia.


Mana Pools is home to the African Big Four animals: elephant, buffalo, lion, and leopard. Although the rhino was a common resident of Mana Pools, it slowly became extinct due to the poaching. The remaining rhinos were promptly relocated to another area for their protection.

Mana Pools is considered to be one the best places to spot the rare African wild dogs dispersed in various regions of the park. The herbivore species in the park include an abundance of Burchell’s zebras, kudu, eland, waterbuck, and impala. Visitors are often taken aback by the park’s elephant population who stand on their hind legs to reach atop the trees for food.

The park’s pools provide a sanctuary for a huge concentration of hippos and crocodiles. The dry season, from June to October, is the best time to spot the thriving wildlife in the park. During these months, the dry weather thins out the bush, forcing wildlife to congregate near the Zambezi River and other pools. Predator species like lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas as well as crocodiles usually stalk these waterholes to pounce on vulnerable prey, providing a thrilling game action.


There are more than 300 bird species recorded in Mana Pools National Park, both resident and migratory. The park is a great birding destination due to its range of habitats such as woodland, savannah, and escarpment cliffs. In the dry season, near the banks of Zambezi River reside the huge colonies of southern carmine bee-eaters. Many other water birds are found on the banks of the river and the four pools of the park.

Rare birds such as the African skimmer, Pel’s fishing owl, and Lilian’s lovebirds are also spotted in the park. Rufous bellied herons, long-toed lapwing, Ayres’ hawk-eagles, little bittern, Mottled spine tail, and many other bird species are observed in Mana Pools. The best time to go birding is from November to April when the park’s native birds are joined by migratory from Europe and Asia.

Activities to do in Mana Pools

Canoe Safaris – Canoe safaris are famous in the lower Zambezi region where visitors can explore the river. Along the riverbanks, various animals such as pods of hippos, crocodiles, kudus, buffalo, elephants, and several bird species are often sighted. The expert guides bring visitors closer to the big game and provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience through canoe safaris. This activity is also a great alternative to game drives.

Walking safaris – Walking safaris are perfect for wildlife enthusiasts who want to be as close to nature as possible. These safaris cover details missed during jeep or canoe safaris. Walking safaris in Mana Pools allow visitors to expect close encounters with species such as elephants, buffalos, and even wild dogs and lions.

Game Drives – Day and night-time game drives are classic in Mana Pools. Due to its rich wildlife diversity, Mana Pools offers a successful safari experience. Visitors are recommended to opt for guided jeep safaris as game viewing becomes much more enjoyable and insightful.

Birding – Birding is a popular activity in Mana Pools due to the varied avifauna found here. Through walking, canoeing, or jeep safaris, visitors can observe various species of birds residing in different habitats of the park.

Fishing (catch and release only) – Mana Pools is famed for inhabiting the finest game fish found in Africa: the tiger fish. Visitors can enjoy catching the tiger fish in Mana Pool’s Zambezi River. Other fish species include catfish and tilapia bream. Fishing is best enjoyed in the early morning or afternoon.

Where to stay In Mana Pools

There are excellent accommodation options available in Mana Pools National Park, offering unparalleled experience in the African wilderness. The top places to stay are:

Kanga Camp – Kanga Camp is located in a private concession and neighbors the Kanga Pan. This luxury camp comprises six tents elevated on wooden platforms, offering views of the Kanga Pan. The Meru-styled tents come with en-suite facilities along with a secluded veranda.

Vundu Camp – Situated on the banks of the Zambezi River, under the luscious riverine trees is the Vundu Camp. It has eight spacious tented chalets, a large deck offering incredible views across the river, and a viewing platform positioned close to a waterhole.

Nyamatusi Mahogany – This camp is nestled under the ancient Mahogany trees, on the shores of the Zambezi River. It offers 2 tented suites and 2 family suites as well as a plunge pool, a dining room, and a game-viewing deck.

Ruckomechi Camp – Ruckomechi Camp has its own private concession in the North-Western part of Mana Pools. The camp is shaded by large Acacia trees and consists of ten luxury-style tented chalets. All units have en-suite facilities as well as private wood verandas that offer breath-taking views of the surroundings.

Zambezi expeditions Camp – This is a semi-mobile elegant yet simple camp, set on the Nkupi camping site next to the Zambezi River. The camp has six tents constructed in classic Meru design with an additional kitchen and a communal area.