In the Shona language, the word ‘mana’ means ‘four’. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the Mana Pools National Park earned its name (and its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) from the four iconic pools dotted across its wetland waterscape. These four oxbow pools were formed over thousands of years by the changing course of the relentless Zambezi River.
Mana Pools is widely regarded as one of Africa’s finest spots for game-viewing and bird-watching. Nile crocodiles and hippos glide through its murky waters, and the treetops and sky are abuzz with over 350 species of birdlife. Elephants, buffalos, zebras, warthogs, impalas, baboons, and more flock to the pools’ lush banks for food—while lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas skulk not too far behind. These predators are far more secretive than their herbivorous counterparts and spotting them is usually a game of chance.
During the rainy season, the park’s floodplains swell with water and are transformed into a vast expanse of lakes. The warmer months—when the lakes dry up—is when the banks of the pools are most alive with wildlife and game-viewing is at its finest. The sparse undergrowth makes Mana Pools perfect for walking safaris but, with 2,196km² of water, it’s also ideal for a canoe safari.
- Designated as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site
- The Park’s four pools cover 2,196km² in total and were formed over thousands of years by the changing course of the Zambezi River
- Great for game-watching—particularly in the dry season when wildlife flock to the banks of the pools
- A paradise for birdwatchers with over 350 species of birdlife recorded here
- Sparse undergrowth and ample water makes it an ideal spot for both walking and canoe safaris