The essence of a Safari game drive
Spectacularly remote and boasting magnificent landscapes intersected by the Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park offers rich and spectacular wildlife viewing. While the reserve itself is only 2 196 km² (850 square miles), it is part of a vast wildlife conversation area that stretches from Lake Kariba in the west to Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique in the east and covers 10 500 km (4 055 square miles). Without any fences to limit them, animals move freely in this area, as well as north across the river, into conservation areas within Zambia. This means that there is a thriving population and variety of wildlife to be seen at Mana Pools.
The area covered by game drives depends on the amount of rain that the park has received, with drives in the dry season concentrating on the riverine areas, as water sources dry up elsewhere and animals are attracted to the banks of the Zambezi. Large herds of elephant and buffalo can be seen on the wide floodplains, as can zebra, kudu, eland, impala and many other antelope species. Mana Pools is particularly well known for its large bull elephants and the expert guides leading your game drive will know where to find individual animals. Towards the end of the dry season, as foliage becomes more scarce, many of these gather in the open woodlands that flank the river, where they can be sometimes be seen standing on their hind legs beneath the albida trees, straining to reach the last remaining seed pods. This can be a spectacular sight to behold, particularly in the surreal light that filters through the trees, unimpeded by the scant undergrowth.
With a wide variety of prey species found within the park, the area is also home to a number of predators and game drives are likely to seek these out. Several prides of lion have made this their territory and they are regularly spotted. The park is also particularly well known for sightings of the endangered wild dog. Leopard, cheetah and hyena are also occasionally encountered, although they are shy and far less readily spotted.