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Mana Pools is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular parks, remote, wild and beautiful, with spectacular views of the river and its wide floodplain, particularly at sunset. It is home to a wide range of animals, over 350 bird species and aquatic wildlife.

The name ‘Mana’ means four in the local Shona language, and the park is named for the four large pools that lie inland from the Zambezi. Hippopotamus, crocodiles and a wide variety of aquatic birds are associated with the pools, all of which can be seen by canoe.

Long Pool’, at six kilometres the largest of the four pools, has a large population of hippo and crocodiles and is a favourite for the large herd of elephant that come out of the thickly vegetated areas in the south to drink. Moving northwards the vegetation changes to Faidherbia albida woodlands on the old river terraces, and the light filtering through the trees gives Mana Pools a distinctive, cathedral-like, atmosphere. It is possible to walk unaccompanied along the old river terraces, through the open woodland – where visibility is good and there is little danger of coming across dangerous animals unexpectedly – a privilege that is unique to Zimbabwe.

Elephant, eland, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys, zebra, warthog and hippo are some of the larger herbivores to be seen regularly on the river terraces as they come out to eat the fallen Albida fruit. Lions, leopards, spotted hyaena and cheetah are present in the area, but their secretive nature makes them more difficult to see. Despite this, it is not often that the visitor leaves Mana Pools without seeing at least one of these large carnivores.

Mana Pools became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: Cape buffalo, African elephant, lion, Nile crocodile, roan
  • Where: Mashonaland West Province, Zimbabwe

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Best of Zimbabwe & Zambia

This upmarket flying safari combines three of southern Africa’s most fruitful wildlife areas – Hwange and Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, with the vastness of the Kafue in western Zambia. Staying in delightful tented camps in the best locations, enjoy day and night vehicle safaris and boat trips to see the abundant wildlife.

  • When to go: Jun-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £9,295 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Distinctive Zimbabwe & Kafue

This trip focusses on the essence of Zimbabwe and Zambia – neighbouring countries that boast some of Africa’s finest wildlife areas. From the stunning Mana Pools and its aquatic wildlife, fly to the remote Busanga Plains in Zamiba’s Kafue National Park for vehicle safaris to see plains game and their predators.

  • When to go: Jun-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 10 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,395 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Mana Pools: Wild Dogs & Elephants Photography

Join us for a unique safari for close encounters and unrivalled photographic opportunities of the wild dogs and bull elephants of Mana Pools National Park. Accompanied by wildlife photographer Bret Charman, you will also view the majestic Victoria Falls as part of this Zimbabwean adventure.

  • When to go: Nov
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,945 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Wild Zimbabwe

Enjoy game drives, walks and canoe safaris in Zimbabwe's two principal wildlife assets. Your first base is luxury tented camp in Hwange National Park, home to huge numbers of elephants, before experiencing a completely different perspective exploring the river and floodplains of Mana Pools.

  • When to go: Jun-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,495 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Wings over Zimbabwe

This trip idea makes the most of your time by flying between comfortable safari lodges and tented camps. From the imposing spectacle of Victoria Falls, head to Hwange National Park, renowned for its elephant and buffalo herds. Continue with spectacular aerial views of Lake Kariba to Mana Pools in the Lower Zambezi.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,895 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Zimbabwe Highlights

This flying safari is a combination of some of the most diverse and spectacular wildlife areas in Zimbabwe. The journey starts at the unforgettable Victoria Falls, before taking in the country’s foremost national park, Hwange. The final stop is Mana National Park, famed for its scenery and magnificent wildlife viewing.

  • When to go: May-Nov
  • Duration inc. flights: 10 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,995 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

John’s Camp

Situated on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, John’s Camp in Mana Pools National Park is a true wilderness camp, within the only wild walking national park in Africa. The camp consists of five meru-style canvas tents with en suite facilities, surrounding a central dining area.

Little Ruckomechi

Amidst the iconic albida trees of Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park lies the classic camp of Little Ruckomechi. With three en suite tents built on wooden decks, this elegant camp offers an intimate experience overlooking the Zambezi River to the Zambian foothills in the distance.

Ruckomechi Camp

This camp nestles in a grove of acacia and mahogany trees on the western boundary of Mana Pools. Ten spacious tents with full en suite facilities include a honeymoon suite and a family room, all with views of the Zambezi River and the mountainous escarpment of the Great Rift Valley beyond.

Vundu Camp

Situated in the heart of Mana Pools National Park, along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, the eight en suite thatched chalets of Vundu Camp are nestled under a forest of riverine trees, with breathtaking views of the river and passing wildlife.