Mana Pools National Park occupies the floodplains of the Lower Zambezi Valley on the southern bank of the Zambezi River in the far north of Zimbabwe. To the West is Lake Kariba and across the Mozambique border to the East: Lake Cabora Bassa. The mighty Zambezi makes its stately progress between these two great man-made lakes forming the border between Zimbabwe and her northern neighbour Zambia.
The landscape running back from the river bank has often been likened to parkland. It is a fair comment, at first glance it does appear groomed: the large albida acacia trees are clipped at a regulated level, the highest browsing height of elephants, and the grass below is clipped short by the herds of game that move back and forth through the area. It is, however, ‘parkland’ on a truly African scale, a real wilderness where you feel truly privileged to be permitted to walk accompanied by the expert guides operating in this area.
Mana Pools holds a special place in the heart of all who have been fortunate enough to experience a safari here. It is a particularly atmospheric place, walking through the albida acacia soon after dawn on the tracks of the lion you heard from your bed the night before is an extraordinary experience. As the sun climbs in the sky the rays are filtered by the leaves above giving the air a blue tint, sometimes talked of as ‘cathedral like’, the sense of grandeur is intensified by the colonnades of trees spreading across the floodplains.
There is a real sense of safari history here, some of the great names in guiding: John Stevens and Garth Thompson among others, have called Mana home through great periods of their careers. The guides of Mana Pools have years of experience between them, their stories can at times be hard to believe, and certainly fill you with excitement at the anticipation of what is to come on a safari in this iconic national park.