A brand new way to experience Mana Pools

24 May 2018

Rarely does a place evoke such passion as Mana Pools National Park, 2,200 square km of untouched wilderness, on the banks of the Zambezi River. It is a part of Africa spoken about with hushed voices, in reverential tones alluding to a more spiritual connection than a simple safari holiday. Both locals and well-travelled foreign visitors say the Mana experience is like no other, and yet it remains one of Africa’s least visited parks - adding to its mystery and magic.

A visit to this secret forest enables you the rare privilege to travel back in time to an Africa we all wish we knew - one free of human encroachment - the Africa of dreams.

Mana is a truly sensory experience, sparkling green and blue in the rainy season, and bathed in golden light during the dry winter months. It is pristine African wilderness waiting to reconnect travellers to the natural world, to experience a true Garden of Eden. With dense vegetation giving way to clearings of unimaginable beauty, and picture-perfect scenes of zebra grazing alongside elephants, baboons playing and warthog families running, Mana is a wildlife paradise.

The area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and is adjoined on three sides by a further unfenced wilderness area of 8,000 km2, through which game is free to roam. And roam it most surely does. Mana is home to Zimbabwe’s largest concentration of hippos and crocodiles, and part of its UNESCO status is based on the Park’s strong populations of endangered species - most notably lion, cheetah, African wild dog and elephant.

Why Mana should be on your bucket list

- Walking safaris

A foot safari is truly the only way to experience the bush, and Mana is Africa’s only national park where anyone can go on a self-guided foot safari, surrounded by an immense variety of animals and birdlife. Walking has been allowed in the park since its inception in the 1980s, and the wildlife in Mana is so used to humans walking, that they barely seem to notice your presence, allowing for unbelievable close-up encounters (sometimes of the scary kind!).

- Very special elephants

Mana is world-renowned for its elephant sitings, and visitors are practically guaranteed some of the world’s most remarkable elephant encounters, whether you venture out on foot, or by vehicle. Their complete indifference towards human bystanders also gives incredible photographic opportunities. There are a few elephants who have developed a solution to the problem of how to reach the tastiest seed pods high up in the Ana trees: they perform a seemingly impossible feat of strength, whereby they heave their entire body weight onto their back legs, giving them a crucial few more metres to reach the lush, delectable treats above. Like everything else in Mana, a completely unbelievable sight.

- Sunsets over the Zambezi

During the winter, the afternoon light in Mana is nothing short of fantastic. The dust from the valley hangs in the air and as the sun sets, the magic happens. Take sundowners on the banks of the Zambezi overlooking the iconic Mana Mouth, watch elephants browsing on the flood plains opposite and listen to the sounds of the bush waking up for the night’s activities. There is no place like Mana to achieve a sense of peace, reconnect with times gone by, and dream of a time when this was all Africa.

Most nights you will hear the sound of lions roaring, get goose bumps as an unknown creature passes close by your tent, and wake to the sound of hippos grunting in the river outside.

Now you can experience Mana in a different way

Conservation Travel Africa are offering adventurous travellers a unique opportunity to be immersed in Mana’s magic, and get more involved in its long term conservation and preservation.

You will live in a tented camp on the banks of the Zambezi River and, alongside taking daily game drives or walking safaris, you are tasked with assisting the Department of National Parks in improving their understanding of the flora and fauna in their care.

  • Participants on our Mana Pools Conservation Experience will collect data on keynote species including hippo, wild dog, elephant, leopard, crocodile and plains game, and study the effect of each species on each other and their environment. Practically speaking, this means tracking game (on foot and by vehicle), monitoring animal behaviour and feeding activity, and recording herd numbers.
  • You will record daily data on water levels, rainfall, temperature and weather conditions to establish trends and patterns, and examine the impact of these variables on animal and bird numbers and species in the area.
  • Additionally participants will learn tracking and trailing skills and gain an in-depth understanding of animal behaviour and the relationships between wildlife and their environments.

Our unique Mana Pools conservation experience is your chance to visit one of Africa’s most pristine wilderness areas; get involved in conservation activities designed for the long term preservation of the park, and have a brand new safari experience.

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