Another of Zimbabwe's UNESCO World Heritage sites, Mana Pools National Park is probably Zimbabwe's most beautiful wilderness retreat and has an excellent and tranquil river frontage on the Zambezi. The name mana means "four" in Shona and this applies to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River. The mountains of the escarpment across the border in Zambia form a beautiful backdrop.
The park is home to elephants, buffalo, black rhinos, lions, hippos, crocodiles, numerous species of antelope and 350 species of birds. It is one of the few parks in Africa where you are permitted to walk—a good safari there will include both guided walks and game drives. For the adventurous, the other option to walking in Mana Pools is to go on a guided canoe safari on the river. Most run from the Zimbabwe-Zambia border at Chirundu and take three to nine days; they can be arranged in Zimbabwe or Zambia. A canoe provides a gentle way of exploring the riverbanks, and nothing beats watching a crocodile slipping silently into the water or seeing a baby elephant at bath time.
The park has a formal campsite at Nyamepi, and several other places for wilderness camping. More upmarket river lodges can be found along the Zambezi outside the park boundaries. Be aware that malaria precautions are absolutely essential in the Zambezi Valley and temperatures are very high in the middle of summer. The park is 218 mi/351 km northwest of Harare.
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