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Protected Area Mana Pools National Park

ID: w149311 View large map

Located in Zimbabwe :: Mashonaland
Category: Protected Areas :: Protected Area


In 1984, Mana Pools National Park together with adjacent Sapi & Chewore Safari Areas, were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. At that time, the valley formed by the Zambezi River in the north and the steep escarpment in the south, was one of the most important refuges for black rhino and other threatened species. Sadly, most of the rhinos were poached by 1994 and the remainder were relocated to a reserve where they could be better protected against poachers. Other threatened species such as lion, cheetah, wild log, leopard and brown hyena still occur in the area.

In 2013, Mana Pools was declared a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention - more than 450 bird species occur within its boundaries. Together with its sister park, Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, it’s also part of the Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Transfrontier Conservation Area.

Traveller Description

The Zambezi River’s seasonal flooding creates a floodplain along the riverbanks and floods the hollows created by years of erosion. This forms a quartet of four (‘mana’ in the local Shona language) large pools when the river subsides. These pools provide water in the dry season, while the ana trees (Faidherbia albida), also known as the ‘apple ring acacia’, provide fodder; the combination of which results in the exceptional wildlife found in the park.

The pools are named Green, Chine, Chisasiko and Long pool. Stretching approximately six kilometres west to east, Long Pool is the largest of the four, and like Chisasiko Pool has water all year round.

The park is home to more than 12 000 elephant, 16 000 buffalo, zebra, nyala, kudu, lion, leopard, wild dog and much more. The river teems with crocodile, hippo and fish; tiger fishing is a popular pastime here. Bird species include the Nyasa Lovebird, White-collared Pratincole and Yellow-spotted Nicator.

Mana Pools is famous for its walking safaris, whether unguided or accompanied by a ranger. After banning unguided safaris in 2015, the park reinstated them a few months later after a massive public outcry. But this time with a code of conduct which needs to be followed by all visitors. It can be downloaded from the Zambezi Society’s website ( but for ease of use, we have published a summary on the next page (courtesy of Contravention of this code is punishable with a fine of US$1 000 so take the time to read the rules and then respect them!

All permits (including the one required to walk in the park) and activities have to be booked and paid for at the Nyamepi Office, in cash. Fishing permits are offered here too.

One can’t do a game drive in a park vehicle but you can book a ranger to accompany you on a game drive. But note, there isn’t an extensive road network so you’re better off exploring the park on foot or in the river by canoe. This is one of the very few parks which allow visitors to walk without a ranger; necessary caution must be taken in the presence of dangerous game such as elephant, hippo and lion. If you’re unsure of your abilities in these situations rather book a ranger to accompany you on your explorations. It is safer, plus you’ll learn a lot!

Address :  Mana Pools National Park, Mashonaland Central Province, Zimbabwe.
Postal :  P. Bag 2061, Karoi, Zimbabwe.
Contact :  Christina Mhuriro (Zimparks Bookings & Enquiries)
Contact 2 :  Samuel George
Cell :  +263(0)77 243 2148
Cell2 :  +263(0)77 325 7731
Email :  Click Here
Website :  Click Here
Host Website :  Click Here
Cellphone Reception :  Nothing

Time Information
Best Time to Visit :  The best time to visit the reserve is between May and September.

Rates and Payment
Updated for :  2019
Payment Methods Accepted :  Cash, Credit Card
Fee/s :  Vehicle entry:USD10 valid 5 days; Park fee:Locals: USD8pp/pd; SADC citizens: USD15pp/pd. Internationals USD20pp/pd. (Oct-2022)

Destination Information
Basic Food Supplies Lodging Camping Airstrip Towing Service
Towing Service Telephone :  +263(0)78 057 9261 / +263(0)71 808 4297 / +263(0)73 652 3424

Camping Landing Strip Wireless Networking Safe Parking Available

Game Viewing Game Drives Hiking Trails Guided Walks Fishing Swimming Canoeing Photography
Game to View :  Elephant. Crocodile. Eland. Buffalo. Impala. Waterbuck. Baboons. Monkeys. Zebra. Warthog. Hippo. Aquatic birds. Lions. Leopards. Cheetah. Spotted hyena.

Travelling Information

Self Drive Access :  Yes
Vehicle Type :  4WD

There are several private upmarket lodges and five self-catering chalets (called ‘lodges’ by Zimparks) in the park, as well as several campsites. Nyamepi Public Campsite is situated on the banks of the Zambezi, on lush green lawns under enormous sausage trees, and has 30 campsites. Campsites on the riverbanks cost more than those a few metres back.

If you long for privacy and solitude, you might consider one of the five ‘exclusive’ campsites in the park. Four are located near the Zambezi River (Mucheni, Gwaya, Nkupe and Ndungu) while the fifth,Chitake, is found further south at Chitake Springs. This last mentioned is not only exclusive, but also completely wild, i.e. there are no facilities so campers need to be self-sufficient. As it’s only accessible in the dry season, this camp is popular due to the high occurrence of lions in the area who frequent the spring when all other water sources in the vicinity dry up.

As far as we know, there is no cellphone reception but there is a WIFI hotspot at the office near Nyamepi Camp.

DO NOT FEED ANY ANIMALS OR LEAVE ANY FOOD IN YOUR CAMP (LOCK IT IN THE CAR). Animals habituated to associating food with humans become problem animals and end up having to be shot. Remember, you are not doing them a favour by feeding them, you are signing their death warrant. If Zimparks catch you feeding any animals at Mana, YOU WILL BE BANNED FOR LIFE.
NO FRESH FRUIT / CITRUS / VEGGIES - BRING CANS. Problem elephants smell fresh fruit a mile off and end up raiding camps, these too have to be put down, it will be your fault!
NO DRIVING OFF ROAD. Vehicle tracks can last for years and compacted surfaces damage the ecology.
BURN ALL TOILET PAPER. Don’t just bury it, the animals will dig it up.
CARRY OUT all trash.
BURY ALL ASH. Leave the campsite as you would like to find it. Most Mana campsites have braai places it is unlawful to light fires away from these points.
CAMPSITES Use only the official campsites. Camping elsewhere is illegal and will incur a fine and possible banning from the park.
WALKING Visitors are allowed to walk unguided at Mana and Chitake at their own risk, however, you will require a permit for this. Permits are available from reception. You may also hire an armed game scout to guide you. Please be careful not to disturb animals or unduly spoil the wilderness experience of others.

Additional Code of Conduct for Chitake Springs:
DO NOT BATHE IN THE SPRING. Or add any detergent to the water, it is the lifeblood of animals and should not be tainted by private ablutions.
SPRING FLOW Do not alter the natural flow of the spring by creating baths/pools etc.
NO DRIVING OFF ROAD and it is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN to drive in the river bed!
CAMPSITES Use only the official campsites. Camping elsewhere is illegal and will incur a fine and possible banning from the park.
NUMBER OF PEOPLE. Don’t exceed the maximum of 12 campers allowed by Zimparks.
NO CAMPING IS ALLOWED UNDER THE FIG TREE. Above the source of the spring.
CARRY OUT all trash.
BURY ALL ASH. Leave the campsite as you would like to find it.
BURN ALL TOILET PAPER. Don’t just bury it as animals will dig it up.
RESPECT the right of game to drink peacefully. Be discreet.
RESPECT other peoples’ right to enjoy Chitake without undue disturbance.

There are no curios sold here. Guests can buy stickers of the park if there is stock. There is a brochure booklet sold at the park office that can assist guests in getting to know the park and its attractions better. The office does not supply maps of the park, guests must take a photo of the map on the wall for park navigation.

There is a registered and qualified nurse available for park staff and guests to the park, based near the office at Nyamepi.

Credit cards are accepted in Mana Pools.

Despite Zimbabwe’s 2018 transition to using the RTGS dollars, at the time of writing park fees were still payable in USD. It’s best to include your park entry fees with your accommodation reservation and pay by card to central reservations before your visit. En route to Mana Pools, you’ll have to stop at the Zimparks office at Marongora on the A1 highway, about six kilometres south of the turn-off to Mana Pools, to obtain your permit. If you didn’t prepay through Central Reservations, this is also where you’ll pay your accommodation and park entry fees.

This permit needs to be presented at the Chimutsi entry gate. From here you will mostly be travelling on badly corrugated roads, so take the opportunity to lower your tyre pressure to ease the journey! A bit further, at Nyakasikana Checkpoint, you have to sign in again. If you haven’t prepaid, you will pay your fees either at the Nyakasikana Checkpoint, or at Nyamepi Camp. Travellers to Chitake Springs will turn right (or southeast) here, while those staying close to the Zambezi River will head northwest to report to Nyamepi Camp.

Your permit needs to be stamped by Nyamepi Camp before you leave the park. If you wish to depart early, before the office opens, then have it stamped the day before.

Mana Pools Fees:
Conservation Fees: SADC: US$15 International: US$20

Fishing/person: SADC: US$5 International: US$10
Guided Walks: SADC: US$10 per person per hour
Unguided Walks: SADC: US$15 per person per day
Wilderness Trails: SADC: US$50 per person per day
Guided canoeing: SADC: US$10 per person per hour

You are not allowed to take fresh fruit into Mana Pools.

The best time to visit the reserve is between April/May and September/October. It could be closed (Nov to April every year) due to flooding. During January to March, many accommodations are also closed. These months vary. Guests must inquire on booking to confirm whether there has been heavy rain or not. The park officials could not confirm any fixed months. Its seasonal.

The Park is generally remote and far from any business centre. The nearest shops and fuel supplies are nearly 100 kilometres away, therefore visitors should be fully equipped for their visit.

Besides a small convenience shop that sells cold drinks and basic supplies, there are no shops or fuel stations in the park, so you’ll need to restock and refuel at Kariba or Karoi. While there are some small shops and a bank in Chirundu on the Zimbabwean side, travelers from Zambia will want to restock in that country where you can more easily find large supermarkets and fuel stations. At the Nyamepi Office you’ll find a registered, qualified nurse to assist with emergency treatments.

It has been reported that the tow-in service from Chirundu is not really reliable. There may be 2 mechanics from Harare, resident at the staff village who can assist with vehicle repair and assistance at approx USD10 per hour. Alternative tow-in services can be provided by DRIVE Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance: Contact: +263(0)78 057 9261 / +263(0)71 808 4297 / +263(0)73 652 3424

 Travel Tip!

The park is accessible all year round, but due to the Zambezi River’s seasonal flooding and the poor road network, large parts of the park aren’t accessible during the rainy season (November to March). So, the best time to visit is in the dry season, from around May to October, although this may change depending on rainfall and the flooding of the river.

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Extras [ add media ]
External Links Related to Mana Pools National Park
T4A Blog article on Mana Pools
Park Factsheets
Wild Zambezi
The Zambezi Society
Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
Files & media related to Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools code of Conduct 2023
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