Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools National Park occupies a vast flood plain along the Zambezi River in northern Zimbabwe. The plains support a diversity of wildlife, the massive mahogany and acacia trees providing cover for all the plains species and the 2,000sq km of seasonally flooded river frontage, ox-bow lakes and pools providing permanent water for a large population of wildlife.
Covering a total area of about 10,500sq km of virtually inaccessible silty clay soil, Mana Pools is one of the last true wilderness areas in Africa. As the Zambezi River recedes each dry season, large pools and ox-bow lakes remain making a unique habitat jam-packed with wildlife, waterlife and birdlife.
Access to Mana Pools is limited to dry season safari drives along established routes; the rest is on foot or in a canoe and certainly not for the faint-hearted or the unfit: this is big game country and then some.
Mana Pools is famous for its walking safaris and canoeing safaris as well as night and day game drives made all the more exciting by the ever-present thrill of getting close to elephants, lions, buffalos, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, hippos, crocs and the whole host of plains game and birdlife.
Your guide will be on the lookout for massive elephants following ancient migration paths, lion prides on the hunt, territorial rhinos and grumpy hippos. Birdlife along the river and around the pools is prolific with a low-season count of about 450 birds increasing to 640 in the the dry winter season between March and September - when game viewing is also at its best.
Why is Mana Pools a Designated UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site?
Mana Pools National Park meets three of the four required criteria for World Heritage Site designation by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre:
- to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance
- to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals
- to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation
Other well-known World Heritage Sites in southern Africa
- Victoria Falls (Natural, Zimbabwe)
- Matobo National Park (Cultural/Natural, Zimbabwe)
- Great Zimbabwe and Midlands (Cultural, Zimbabwe)
- Khami Ruins (Cultural, Zimbabwe)
- Cape Floral Region (Natural, South Africa)
- Robben Island (Cultural, South Africa)
- Drakensberg Park (Natural, South Africa)
- Twyfelfontein (Cultural, Namibia)
- Lake Malawi National Park (Natural, Malawi)
More In Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a small country and its diverse attractions are packed into short easy drives or even quicker, easier flights. Expect beautiful waterfalls and rivers, exceptional wildlife safaris and spectacular scenery from classic African plains to vast river valleys, mystical hills and misty mountains.
Elevated 1483 metres above sea level in the Northeast of Zimbabwe, this metropolitan city in the Mashonaland Region offers a subtropical highland climate, one of the most favourable year round, throughout the world. Perhaps one of the main reasons it’s the most populous city in Zimbabwe. Who doesn’t want to live in the ‘Sunshine City’?
Situated in a scenic area of granite outcrops, miombo woodland and right next to one of several recreational lakes in central Zimbabwe, the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe is a wonderful diversion between north, south, east and west. The Lake Muturikiwe features an excellent game reserve with scenic mountains framing images of rhino and antelope at the water's edge. Further afield is Antelope Park, a small private game reserve dedicated to restoring Africa's lion population to a happier state.
Gonarezhou National Park
At just short of half the size of Hwange National Park, this park of 5053sq km, is found in the south eastern corner of the Masvingo Province. Smaller but certainly not inferior. This park boasts about being further off the normal northern tourist route and of a rugged terrain, therefore offering an untouched wildlife and African bush experience.
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