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INSIDERS AFRICATM

Exploring Africa's Wildlife And Wild Places

Introducing A New Classic: Mana Pools Safari

by David Tett
March 5, 2015

Growing up in Zimbabwe in the 60's and 70's was a dream. Life was simple, and we spent our school holidays in pristine national parks full of the big five and herds of buffalo, and devoid of any other safari goers. The one park which was a family favorite was Mana Pools which encompasses part of the middle Zambezi floodplain.

Walking Safari Selinda CanoeTrails Selinda Game Reserve BotswanaWalking Safaris like no other destination in Africa

The Mana Pools area is unique in that it is very open riverine habitat which lends itself to walking safaris like no other destination in Africa. The other feature of this beautiful savannah is it has lots of acacia albida trees which attract numerous bull elephants that love to feed on them along the Zambezi river banks. These solitary bulls are pretty relaxed and with a "Zim Pro Guide" - a highly trained walking guide who often knows the individual elephants and their personalities - you can approach these elephants and get up close which is a magical experience.

Mana Pools Tented Camp, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe SafarisA bull elephant feeds at the edge of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

When we started Bushtracks over 25 years ago, one such walking guide and mobile safari camp outfitter we worked with closely was John Stevens and his wife Nicci. Recently they called me to say that their daughter Sarah and son-in-law Milo have established a stunning mobile tented safari camp in Mana. Anyone who knows the Stevens knows that this camp is impeccably run, that you will experience a safari in one of its most traditional forms, and you will get up close, on foot, to some beautiful bull elephants, which is a thrill. 

New Mana Pools Camp is at the heart of a New Classic Safari

When John and Nicci told me about Milo and Sarah's new camp, I designed an itinerary that goes back to one of our original favorites - a combination of Botswana and Zimbabwe, with a Mana Pools safari at its heart. To match the style and intimacy of Mana Tented Camp, I chose the more traditional Selinda Explorers tented camp near the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Here you can canoe on the Selinda spillway as well as walk, game drive, and night drive.

Selinda Explorers Camp, Selinda Game Reserve, BotswanaGetting up-close to wildlife by canoe at the Selinda Explorers Camp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Next you visit Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. There is much debate as to which side is better to view the Falls - Zambia or Zimbabwe - and having done both many times, I can say it really does not matter much, they are impressive either way. However, from a logistics side of things, staying on the Zimbabwe side avoids Zambian customs and immigration procedures, which means more forms and more time.

Aerial view, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls is stunning viewed from either the Zimbabwe or Zambian side

The next stop is Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's flagship reserve, and Little Mak - a permanent tented camp. Again, a very good park for elephants, the big cats, herds of antelope, and being in Zimbabwe you get to do some exciting walking safaris in the morning with a Zim Pro Guide, as well as game drives and night drives.

Walking Safari Little Makalolo, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe-2Professional Zimbabwe guides enrich your safari experience at Little Makalolo in Hwange, Zimbabwe

This big game walking safari ends in Mana Pools with another fabulous on foot safari experience, up close to bull elephants, with the giant Zambezi river flowing along its northern border, and the blue Zambezi escarpment as a beautiful backdrop. It does not get any better than this.

Mana Pools Tented Camp, Mana Pools, ZimbabweThe style and intimacy of Mana Pools Tented Camp are reflected in all other properties on this safari

This is a great safari that allows you to stretch your legs (as well as take game drives in 4x4 vehicles, and canoe) while you enjoy some of the best wildlife viewing Africa has to offer. It also demonstrates how we can use our custom safari tools and know-how to craft a safari based on whatever sparks your imagination: whether it's a new camp, a friend's experience on safari, a desire to see a particular animal, or to travel at a certain time of year. In my case, a call from a friend evoked strong memories of the safaris of my childhood in Southern Africa, and this safari allows me to replicate them, and share it with you.

Make your own memories on this new classic safari

Topics: Activities and Culture, Destinations

Posted in: Activities and Culture, Destinations

AUTHOR BIO  |David Tett

Bushtracks' Founder & Owner is a sixth-generation Southern African, born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, later earning a Bachelor of Science degree in DNA technology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He founded Bushtracks Expeditions in 1989 and has been traveling extensively throughout Africa for more than 45 years. Combining his interest in ecosystems and the varied ecology of Africa with photographic safaris, he develops educational programs that include traditional cultures and wildlife. He is keenly interested in how nature tourism affects rural African communities and has worked with several projects that successfully integrate communities, the environment, and wildlife viewing.