Mana Pools safari: Big, up close & on foot in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools

Mana Pools is synonymous with getting very, very close to elephant on foot - which you can do, and a whole lot more besides

Elephant are regular visitors to the handful of authentic, simple mobile tented camps in Mana Pools National Park. When you’re not enjoying the view of the broad river and scenic escarpment, you’ll be out on short drives, during which your guide will take every opportunity to pick up a trail and follow it on foot into the bush...with the distinct possibility that you will find yourself standing close enough to see an elephant’s eyelashes.

The high canopy of Acacia Albida trees and wide floodplain of the Zambezi makes prime walking territory.  You can see for miles, and the wildlife gathers en-masse at the rich alluvial feast on the banks. Mana is one of the few true wildernesses in the world where you can encounter elephant, lion and wild dog in such close proximity, and on foot.

Bizarrely, anyone can take themselves off for a walk in Mana, and do not need to be accompanied by a guide or armed ranger - we would not recommend this for a second, firstly due to the ample chance to get yourself in to terminal trouble with elephant, hippo, buffalo or lion - but also because without a guide with local knowledge you are likely to see very little and understand even less. Fortunately Mana Pools remains a favourite playground for some of Zimbabwe’s best professional guides.

The current political turmoil in Zimbabwe is well publicised and therefore any safari planning to incorporate Mana Pools must bear in mind that there is a possibility that things will deteriorate further before they get better - however for those willing to take that risk there are very good reasons to visit Zimbabwe, both ethical, and the fact that you are unlikely to run in to many other tourists while being shown around by some of Africa's most capable guides

Posted by: Amanda Mitchell

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