April 13, 2023 3 min read

Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe: A Comprehensive Guide

Explore the pristine wilderness of Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its extraordinary wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the best time to visit, the wildlife highlights, and the accommodation options available to ensure an unforgettable African safari experience.

Introduction and Overview of Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park is located in northern Zimbabwe, covering an area of 2,196 square kilometers (848 square miles) along the banks of the Zambezi River. The park boasts a diverse range of habitats, including floodplains, woodlands, and riverine forests. The name "Mana" means "four" in the Shona language, referring to the four large pools formed by the meandering Zambezi River. This pristine wilderness is home to a wealth of wildlife and offers unique safari experiences, making it a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists alike.


Dusty Boots Travel - Elephant on hind legs - Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe - Image by Wilderness

Best Time to Visit: Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Month

January - March

  • Advantages: Green season, excellent birdwatching, calving season for herbivores, and lower rates at lodges and camps
  • Disadvantages: Heavy rainfall and poor road conditions

April - June

  • Advantages: Lower visitor numbers, moderate rates at lodges and camps, and pleasant temperatures
  • Disadvantages: Rainy season, muddy roads, and reduced visibility due to vegetation

July - October

  • Advantages: Dry season, excellent wildlife viewing, concentrated animal populations around water sources, and lower risk of malaria
  • Disadvantages: Peak season with higher visitor numbers and higher rates at lodges and camps

November - December

  • Advantages: Lower visitor numbers, moderate rates at lodges and camps, and pleasant temperatures
  • Disadvantages: Short rains, increased humidity, and occasional road closures

Wildlife Highlights and Key Attractions

The Big Five

Mana Pools National Park is home to four of the Big Five, offering the chance to spot elephants, lions, leopards, and African buffalo. The park is also home to a small population of black rhinoceros, although sightings are rare.

Unique Wildlife

Dusty Boots Travel - Wild dog at Ruckomechi Camp in Mana Pools

The park hosts several unique species, such as the endangered African wild dog, nyala antelope, and the striking eland.

Walking Safaris

Dusty Boots Travel - Walking Safari near Ruckomechi Camp in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

Embark on a guided walking safari, providing an immersive and intimate experience of the park's untamed wilderness and diverse flora and fauna.

Canoe Safaris

Explore the Zambezi River and its tributaries on a canoe safari, offering a unique perspective of the park's wildlife and landscapes.

Accommodation Options and Safari Packages

Mana Pools National Park offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences:

Luxury Lodges

Dusty Boots Travel - Chikwenya Camp in Mana Pools - Bath

These upscale lodges provide a luxurious stay, complete with fine dining, spa services, and high-end amenities.

Tented Camps

Dusty Boots Travel - Kanga Camp in Mana Pools National Park Zimbabwe

Tented camps offer an authentic safari experience while still providing modern comforts such as en-suite bathrooms and comfortable beds.

Budget Campsites

For budget-conscious travelers, basic campsites provide an affordable option, with shared facilities such as bathrooms and cooking areas.

When it comes to safari packages, there are various options to choose from:

  1. Private Guided Safaris: Enjoy a personalized experience with a private guide who will tailor the safari to your interests and preferences.
  2. Group Safaris: Join a group of like-minded travelers and explore Mana Pools National Park together, providing a more cost-effective option.
  3. Fly-In Safaris: Save travel time and access remote areas of the park by flying directly to airstrips near your chosen accommodation.
  1. Game Drives: Embark on game drives in open safari vehicles, providing the best opportunities to spot wildlife and take in the stunning landscapes.
  2. Walking Safaris: Immerse yourself in the untamed wilderness with a guided walking safari, allowing for an intimate connection with nature and the chance to learn about the park's flora and fauna.
  3. Canoe Safaris: Experience the park from a unique perspective as you navigate the Zambezi River and its tributaries on a guided canoe safari.


Mana Pools National Park is a must-visit destination for any wildlife enthusiast, conservationist, or traveler seeking a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Its pristine landscapes, abundant wildlife, and range of accommodation options make it an ideal choice for a once-in-a-lifetime African adventure. We hope this comprehensive guide has provided valuable insights to help you plan your dream safari to Mana Pools National Park. Stay tuned for our next destination guide: Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique: A Comprehensive Guide.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to experience the magic of Zimbabwe for yourself. Contact Dusty Boots Travel via email, Instagram or Facebook today to start planning your dream safari holiday.

Images by African Bush Camps & Wilderness Destinations

Riaan van den Berg
Riaan van den Berg

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