Destinations Southern Africa

7 Exciting Activities to Enjoy in Mana Pools National Park

mana pools national park
Written by Teresa Mwangi

Mana Pools National Park isn’t as popular as South Africa’s Kruger National Park or Botswana’s Chobe National Park. However, it is a hidden gem that Zimbabwe takes a lot of pride in.

The park should be on your bucket list of beautiful but unexplored places to visit in Africa. To top it up, Zimbabweans are friendly and they always itch to share their history with visitors. Wildlife is part of this history that you will hear and see during your visit.

See Africa Today explores the often-untold stories of nature and beauty in Zimbabwe.

What Can You Do at Mana Pools National Park?

There are different amazing things you can do at Mana Pools National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park stretches from northern Zimbabwe to the Zambian border, touching the famous Zambezi River down south.

Its geographical positioning makes it a great safari destination. Here are six things you can do while at the park.

mana pools national park

Mana Pools National Park. Photo/Discover Africa Blog

Wildlife Safari

The unspoken truth of this park is its rich wildlife diversity that easily gives Chobe Etosha and Kruger National Parks a run for their fame. Elephants, leopards, buffalos, monkeys, baboons, wild dogs, spotted hyenas, cheetahs and zebras roam around the game park.

River beds and watering holes within this ecosystem are good spots to watch these wild animals. Elephants are common sights cooling their bodies by swimming on the shallow ends of the river. Tourists can enjoy game drives in the morning or late afternoon.

Walking Tour

A tour guide (s) helps tourists discover and explore nature differently through established nature trails. These trails have amazing views of the huge savannah grassland and you can see wild animals from far away using binoculars.  Africa has fantastic nature walk tours and this is unique.

Wilderness Hikes

Northern Zimbabwe is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. You get up close with wild animals. Mana Pools National Park has traditionally had a three-day wild hiking trail giving tourists a chance to fall in love with nature. Visitors also have an opportunity to see endangered animals during the hike.

Bird Watching Safari

Bird lovers have an excellent time watching over 450 species of birds. Bird watching hardly disappoints as they are easy to spot. Popular species include:

  • Grey-crowned crane
  • African Skimmer
  • African Fish Eagle
  • Southern Carmine Bee-eater

Scenic Tours

Mana Pools is culturally scenic in that it carries four of Zimbabwe’s prestigious magical pools believed to be a reflection of the Shona culture. These pools are the playground for crocodiles and hippos which occupy the four pools that flood seasonally but never dry out.


The Zambezi River is a shared resource between Zambia and Zimbabwe and a popular fishing spot for tourists. This river has huge fish and travellers’ delight is returning to base with a great catch.


mana pools canoeing

Mana Pool canoe ride in Zimbabwe. Photo/African bush camps

Canoeing at the Mana Pools completes a safari in Zimbabwe. You discover the breathtaking landscapes, plains and mountains on the horizon. The canoes are handcrafted with wooden paddles to steer the boat across the pools.

What is Special About Mana Pools?

Generally, canoeing and fishing are the reasons that make Mana Pools National Park special. As a home to some endangered wild species, sights of brown hyenas scavenging are a near guarantee. Most hyena species are black-spotted and present in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Further, crocodiles, hippos, elephants, wild dogs, leopards, buffalos, and breathtaking views add to the fun. The untouched nature also increases the park’s wild value as it is situated in a remote region without human settlement.

Long drives from Harare headed to the national park deliver a rare sight of raw nature and what to expect at the park.

Is Mana Pools Worth Visiting?

A tour to Mana Pools is worth it for a safari traveller and history lovers. Canoeing is a rare tourist activity across African parks but it’s a mainstay in Zimbabwe’s northern area. Wildlife sightings are also effortless and thrilling as visitors can watch some nearby.

Lastly, its scenery comprising escarpments, mopane woodlands and tree-studded plains that flood occasionally is gorgeous. Most tourists are blown away by these views consistent with the beauty of the Zambezi winding on the far end.

You can fly to the national park via Kariba airstrip and drive a short distance to the park. Alternatively, you can fly to Harare International Airport.

About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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