There is no greater thrill to be had on a Zimbabwe safari, that in Mana Pools National Park – the wild child of the Zambezi River!
This portion of the Zambezi Valley is a true wilderness area with one of the highest dry-season concentrations of animals in Zimbabwe.
Canoeing along the Zambezi is a speciality of the area and is a real ride on the wild side.
The river can turn from flat and calm to angry and choppy with a headwind into which you have to steer your small fibreglass canoe.
Most of the time it is peaceful and scenically beautiful with distant purple hills of the Zambian escarpment on one side and wooded slopes leading to the interior of the national park on the southern banks.
Along the river’s edge are wide green flood plains tramped by elephants and buffalo who take little notice as you drift silently by on your two-man canoe.
At the public entrance to this park you are strictly warned that it is offence to take citrus fruits in with you. Elephants have a craving for oranges and will trample your tent or upturn your car just to get to them!
The Zambezi is a life force supporting great numbers of pink-eared hippos and huge crocodiles that resemble floating logs. Many people come here to fish for fighting tiger fish, large perch, delicious bream and slippery catfish.
The succulent floodplains are sometimes over a mile wide and are constantly grazed by elephants, buffaloes and waterbuck.
Bird life is wonderful with inquisitive yellow-billed kites swooping down to have a look at you and other raptors and vultures circling high in the thermals. Carmine bee-eaters flit about in a purple blur as they emerge from the sandbank pitted with their nesting holes.
Dry Season: June to October – large numbers of animals come to the river to drink and graze along the lush banks during these months. The increasing build up to rain in October creates considerable heat with temperatures over 86°F (30°C).
Rainy Season: it rains intermittently from early November to the end of April and most animals move away from the river towards the escarpment. It is hot and humid with temperatures around 82°F (28°C). Most roads within the park are closed during this period but charter flights operate to two airstrips in the park.