Mana Pools National Park is one of Southern Africa’s most productive wilderness areas.
The big advantage in Mana Pools is great habitat and seasonal diversity between the Zambezi Escarpment and the lower Zambezi River. A productive floodplain has pools of permanent water inland. This water attracts good numbers of animals down from the dry hills between April to November.
The alluvial soils support a variety of mature trees. Mahogany, fig and ebony are some of the species seen. Magnificent apple ring or ‘winterthorn’ trees provide food in the form of pods and leaves. Elephants are seen standing on their back legs, reaching for the fruits. Baboons sit high in the trees munching away. Discarded pith and seeds fall to the ground where antelope greedily chew them up.
Key species include buffalo, kudu, waterbuck, baboon, lion, leopard and hippo. Of particular note are the giant but gentle elephants. A big male could walk within a few metres of game viewing vehicles. In the distance, one might see Warthog rushing off with their tails high in the air. Large packs of wild dog roam widely across this incredible wilderness. A visitor might be lucky enough to spot a cheetah with her cubs in the more open areas.
Birding is very rewarding. Fish eagles, storks, herons, Carmine bee-eaters and the rare Pel’s fishing owl are just some of the species.
Opposite the park, on the other side of the river, is the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. The view from Zimbabwe is spectacular. The distant blue hills behind the river and the bush are most photogenic. Occasionally a group of canoeists drift past, and hippos provide background music.