The Zambezi is a great spot to walk along to spot game and birds, however, the pools from which the park got its name is a must. There are four oxbow lakes that are fairly close to the Zambezi and are full of hippo and crocodile, as well as the occasional drinker either bird or animal. In the dry season most of the water around the plain has dried up and the only left are from the river or these oxbow lakes. Game does come here often. Always be aware when approaching the pools by foot. It is possible to view some of the pools from the car if you are a little too skittish about walking.
In this particular shot a bull hippo challenged another bull's territory and was quickly dispatched. Unfortunately they both head my direction causing more than just a little fright for me since I was there on foot and about 40 meters away. These creatures can run up to 50 km/ hour for short distances.
The camp grounds in Mana Pools have no fences. The animals come and go as they wish. You are truly in the African wild here. You may walk around the park without being confined to your car and without an armed guard. The only restriction it that you must be back at the camp grounds between sunset and sunrise. The main camp is Nyamepi and is located right on the south bank of the Zambezi River looking over into Zambia and is a lovely spot. There are bathrooms and showers here. There is no hot water. There are brais to cook upon.
You really must have your own vehicle to get to Mana Pools independently. It is requirement upon booking, which must be made at Marongora, the administrative center of the park. Marongora is south of Chirundu. All of the roads are unsealed and in the wet season you really may have difficulty getting around without a 4x4. The dry season is from May to October.
You can book tours with organized safaris out of Harare and maybe even Kariba.
I recommend staying in your tent at night. Try not to drink beverages that will make you need to use the bathrooms because once you leave your tent you might run into something along the way to the head. At night, hippos walked around the campground eating those sausage pods and lions sometimes pass near. Baboons and elephants hang about the campground during the day. Watch your food with those baboons. They can be really aggressive and will take your food when your back is turned. The elephants are used to people but be aware as they are still enormous creatures. Absolutely no citrus is allowed in the park as the elephants are crazy about them.
Watch out for those mosquitoes, this is a malarial area. As the sun sets, cover up, and spray yourself generously. You may want to consider a prophylactic as well.
Bring good walking shoes as this park is great for self walks.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Pack mosquito spray.
Photo Equipment: Bring plenty of film and batteries. There are no places to buy in the park.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: You must be self sufficient if you plan on visiting Mana Pools. Bring your own tent and sleeping gear as well as a stove. There are brais available but a stove is definately nice.
Miscellaneous: Stock up in Harare on food. There are not markets along the way to Mana Pools.
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