Mana Pools offers a variety of camp and lodging options to suit most budgets. The main speciality about the park is the walking safari opportunities. Leaving the vehicle behind you can explore the area on foot with Geoff, a Proffesional Walking Guide, taking time to observe the smells, sounds and sights that you miss when bouncing around in a car.
Another option is to drift down the Zambezi River in a canoe, following elephants as they swim across the channels, or watching Carmine Bee Eaters nesting in their thousands in the river banks.
MANA POOLS - TOP TIPS
As well as a very healthy population of lions and leopards, which can often be approached on foot, Mana Pools is also one of the best places to see Wild Dogs. The area is home to a very healthy population of these amazing super predators!
The name Mana Pools comes from the local dialect and means "Four Pools". During the dry season (August - November) these four large inland pools, left over from a previous channel of the Zambezi River, offer animals an alternative to going down to the fast flowing river to drink.
During the dry months the Apple Ring Acacias come into seed and the versatile elephants of the region have learnt to stand on just their hind legs to enable them to reach up and shake branches laden with the nutritious seeds. The seeds rain down on the ground and provide an important food source for a variety of wildlife, the elephants included!
With the whole Zimbabwean side of this enormous lake set aside for wildlife, there are a variety of accommodation options - from conventional hotels and boutique lodgings in Kariba Town, to bush camps scattered along the lakeshore or, something very unique, house boats. These large boats can comfortably hold a group of guests in luxury and give you the flexibility of exploring the shorelines with different views every day!
KARIBA - TOP TIPS
One of the best ways to see and appreciate the area is by boat. Most camps have the option of either speed boats or pontoons and these are idea for exploring the many creeks, trawling for the ferocious Tiger Fish or just drifting along, watching elephants swimming.
The lake is a veritable bird watchers paradise and even those with only a passing interest in birds will soon be fascinated by the variety and numbers. Lake Kariba offers fantastic photographic opportunities to capture birds in flight and fishing - so bring a decent lens!
MAN MADE LAKE
Any trip to Kariba must include a visit to the dam wall. When built in 1958 it was the largest man made lake in the World and stretches over 220 kilometres long! Its primary purpose is for Hydro-Electric power but it now provides income and employment for a large number of fishermen as well.
Vic Falls is a typical tourist destination town, full of curio shops and offering some interesting adrenalin based activities - from bunji jumping to white water rafting. If this is not your cup of tea then one full day in town is enough to take in the awe of the falls.
VITORIA FALLS - TOP TIPS
Despite being a tourist town the actual Victoria Falls itself is a "must do" activity. The rainforest on the rivers edge is deeply fascinating and has a wide variety of birdlife, various mammal species and some beautiful plant life that is rather unique to the area. Remember to bring a raincoat, a wide angle lens and something to keep your personals dry!
The river, both upstream and downstream, is a thing of wonder and beauty. Upstream you can take pontoons or canoes and go out and explore the river as it gently heads down towards the waterfalls. The National Park is full of wildlife and it is not uncommon to see lions relaxing on the bank or elephants swimming across the river to Zambia.
downstream, the river shows a different character - grade 5 rapids that are only passable in an inflatable raft - not for the faint-hearted!
The falls span over 1.7 kilometres across and the best way to take in this immense natural wonder is from the air. There are a variety of helicopter excursions available and are well worth considering. The best options include exploring the gorge downstream and a quick flight over the national park to look for elephants.
At 14,500 square kilometres the Hwange National Park is enormous. And it is just as well as the park is home to over 44 000 elephants!
HWANGE - TOP TIPS
Hwange is not just about elephants and the big cats. The area is also home to a variety of other animals not often seen elsewhere - such as the rate Roan Antelope, his cousin the gorgeous Sable or even the regal Kudu - rest assured the area has a lot to offer!
With such a high density of these beautiful giants Hwange offers excellent opportunities for elephant interactions - from having a herd surrounding your car at sunset as they come down to drink, to spending hours following a huge bull on foot, a few days in their company will give you a new found respect for these amazing animals.
Hwange has a very healthy population of all of the big cats, lions, leopards and cheetah, and is possibly the best place in Zimbabwe to see a kill. The park also occassionally has packs of Wild Dogs denning.