Mana Pools is located in the Lower Zambezi Valley
Mana Pools National ParkThe mighty Zambezi River flows from Lake Kariba through the Lower Zambezi Valley, a huge rift in the earth's crust. Over the millennia the Zambezi has rushed through this valley creating islands, channels and sandbanks. Old river meanders, left in the mineral-rich volcanic soils, have formed into small ox-bow lakes surrounded by lush vegetation and tall old stands of mahogany and ebony. This abundance of water and luxuriant greenery accounts for the valley's wealth of big game.
In 1984, Mana became the first national park in Zimbabwe to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has since been joined by four other Zimbabwean sites including Victoria Falls, the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, the Khami Ruins and Matobo Hills National Park.
There are beautiful national parks on opposite sides of the river here – Mana Pools National Park on the Zimbabwean bank, and the Lower Zambezi National Park on the Zambian side. Both have spectacular views of the mountains and the Rift Valley Escarpment.
The larger animals have no trouble in swimming between the two and this ensures equally good game in both parks. The undergrowth here is often sparse, so the land is perfect for walking safaris. On the water, canoe safaris are one of Zimbabwe's ultimate big game adventures, and a great way to see the valley.
During the rains, from January to March, the lodges here are closed and most of the big game animals move away from the river and into the escarpment. They start returning to the riverine areas from around April, as the pools in the bush dry up. As the year progresses, increasingly large herds of elephant and buffalo are seen, as well as kudu, eland, waterbuck, zebra, impala and many other antelope. There is a wide variety of birds and the game is very relaxed about people on foot, making Mana Pools one of Africa's best national parks for walking safaris.