Mana Pools National Park is located in Zimbabwe along the Zambezi River and the border of Zambia. The park covers an area of 2,612 square miles (6,766 sq km).
This broad plain area generates a series of lakes during the rainy season. As the waters begin to recede, the remaining pools become excellent game viewing locations as wildlife flocks to these natural watering holes. It is these remaining pools that draw the animals and create this spectacular game viewing setting.
The Mana Pools were combined with the Sapi Safari Area and Chewore Safari Area to create a single UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984. It is also classified as a wetland of international importance by Ramsar. The national park area is also contiguous with Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. Unfortunately, it is not easy to travel between the two parks.
The remoteness of the Mana Pools helps travelers engage the true sense of a wilderness experience while also increasing the intrigue and adventure of discovering Africa.
Although there will be more than four pools at different times based on the rainfall, there are four pools that are recognized as permanent in the area. In a local language, the word “mana” means four. The four permanent watering holes or pools are where the park draws its name.
How To Get There
To get to Mana Pools visitors should drive up the main tarred road from Harare/Chirundu. Once you reach the bottom of the Zambezi escarpment turn off the tarred road onto a 70 kilometre (43.5 mile) dirt road and travel towards Nyamepi Camp. Entry permits are provided for free from the Nyamauti wilderness area and also from the Kanga Pan. There is a 2 day pass limit per car.
The national park is only open to vehicles during the dry season when the roads are manageable by 4X4. During the wet season visitors can only enter the park on foot on a walking safaris or by boat on a canoe safari. The best time to visit the reserve is between May and September, however the best game viewing is said to be between late September and early October but this period is not recommended due to the intense heat – temperature reach up to 38°C (100°F) or higher.
Between December and March the park is usually closed, or very limited access is granted.