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.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984, 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’, the largest of the 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 chance 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 hyena 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.
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