The Mana Pools and Hwange Safari with Kanga Camp combines two of the best parks in Zimbabwe to create one unforgettable experience.
By combining the intimate on foot experiences in Mana Pools with the exciting game viewing that Hwange has to offer, this experience will cover all your safari requirements.
The first location on the Mana Pools and Hwange Safari is Mana Pools.
Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a beautiful 2,196 sq. km wildlife conservation area in northern Zimbabwe.
Mana means "four" in Shona, (one of the main vernacular languages in Zimbabwe) and it refers to the number of large permanent pools left by the Zambezi River as it flows into the flood plain. Mana is known as one of Africa’s best game viewing areas, as many large animals come here in search of water. It is also an excellent area for fishing, of course, and bird-watching, being rich in vegetation diversity from river frontage to forests of mahogany, wild fig, acacia albida and baobabs.
Mana Pools is one of Southern Africa’s most undeveloped national parks, and that’s not a bad thing. The park welcomes its visitors to leave the confines of their vehicles, allowing you the life-changing experience of seeing Mana’s majestic wildlife on-foot. This is a rare opportunity to encounter nature in an intimate way, face-to-face and utterly exposed. All encounters are done under the guidance of a professional Zimbabwe guide, as well as your experienced Wild Eye guide. The animals will always have our utmost respect and will never be disturbed for our gratification.
The landscapes in Mana Pools are beautiful too, dotted with acacia trees, whose shade becomes vital to the parks’ more than 12,000-strong elephant population in the dry season, as well as a sprinkling of vibrant plant life. Far away from any human settlement, you’ll relish the feeling of remoteness here. Surrounded only by extreme wilderness, and if you visit in winter, you’ll find yourself exploring amongst the highest concentration of wildlife in Africa. An experience for which words can do no justice.
From Harare International airport you will board a scheduled flight into Mana Pools (roughly a one and a half hour flight). Flying into the Zambezi valley is truly an experience with beautiful scenery throughout the flight. Once you have landed in Mana Pools you will be met by your local Guide and transferred by road to Zambezi Expeditions, the first Camp on the Mana Pools and Hwange Safari with Kanga Camp.
Where we are staying in Mana Pools: Zambezi Expeditions
Our idylic tented safari camp during the first 5 days on this Mana Pools and Hwange Safari with Kanga Camp is located only meters away from the edge of the mighty Zambezi. The camp is warm & charming and is hosted by a team that puts your comfort & experience first. Exquisite cuisine, campfire stories & the sounds of Africa permeating your canvas tents all form part of an unforgettable encounter with Africa.
Zambezi Expeditions showcases one of the most magnificent settings in Zimbabwe's iconic Mana Pools.
Comfortable yet classic, the camp offers the kind of intimacy with nature that can only be achieved by immersing yourself in the heart of the wild.
Set under the shade of winter thorn and ebony trees, each tent has en suite bathroom facilities with hot bucket showers and the main area has charging facilities for your all-important cameras.
Fall asleep to the sound of the flowing river and chuckles of hippo and wake-up with the dawn chorus to a spectacular African sunrise.
At Zambezi Expeditions you will connect with nature in a deep and meaningful way.
Where we are staying in Mana Pools: Kanga Camp
Kanga Camp will be our second stop on the Mana Pools and Hwange Safari with Kanga Camp and is located right next to one of the last remaining inland waterholes in Mana Pools.
During the dry season much of the park ends up without water and many of the animals need to “migrate” towards the floodplain and the large Zambezi River. There are however a few waterholes that remain further inland and Kanga Pan is one of them, attracting a multitude of animals and birds during both day & night time.
During the day you’ll enjoy many elephants coming for a drink, often within touching distance of the camp’s raised wooden deck.
You can even enjoy their company from the comfort of your room as the elephants enjoy the shade provided by the large trees surrounding the pan. Many herds of zebra, impala, kudu, buffalo and more congregate around the water during the day for a drink. There’s also always a chance of seeing a predator coming for a drink during daylight hours.
At night the waterhole takes on a different life. Now the nocturnal animals come out to play and it’s not uncommon to see lions, several different leopards, hyenas and wild dogs come for a drink. Several more uncommon species also venture down to the water like honey badgers, civet, genets, porcupine and more.
Solar-powered Kanga Camp comprises of six tents all raised on individual wooden platforms for an elevated view over the Kanga Pan. Each Meru-styled tent is simple yet elegant, boasting floor-to-ceiling mesh windows to let in ample natural light and a light breeze.
All tents are replete with fans, en-suite bathroom, flushing toilet, outdoor shower, hot running water and a secluded veranda. Kanga has a family tent which boasts a wraparound terrace facing the pan with private seating and dining areas.
The honeymoon tent features a rolltop bath on the adjoining secluded deck, ideal for a romantic starlit bath. Kanga's inviting upper deck lounge under the shade of a mahogany tree is a super place to slip away to for some quiet time. Every home-style comfort is taken care of at this Kanga safari lodge, even a battery charging station for your all-important cameras.
Kanga Camp is special and the 2 nights here will give you a special glimpse into what happens further inland in Mana Pools. It’ll be a highlight of your stay, of that we are sure.
Getting to Kanga Camp
After a morning activity along the flooplain of Mana Pools, we will make our way by road to Kanga Camp. The drive to Kanga Camp is usually around an hour, however more often than not there will be something to stop and photograph along the way.
Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park is the largest wildlife reserve in Zimbabwe, occupying roughly 14,650 sq. km. It is in the northwest corner of the country, about one hour south of Victoria Falls by air, and is distinctive by its deep Kalahari sands which blew across the continent aeons ago and now support ancient hardwood forests, savannah grasslands and acacia trees.
The park is named after a local Nhanzwa chief, and was once the royal hunting ground for the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi, before being classified as a protected National Park in 1929.
As you’d expect from a park of this size, the breadth of wildlife species is astounding. Over 100 species of mammals reside here, whilst almost 400 species of birds decorate the skies. Perhaps most exciting is the 40,000-strong population of tusker elephants, whose presence is world-renowned and a joy to watch day after day.
The dry season (from July to October) is the best time to visit Hwange, as large concentrations of wildlife– particularly the wonderful elephant herds – descend upon the area to drink from the waterholes in order to survive in this hot and unforgiving environment. Yet, whilst the rains from December to March will see the wildlife dispersing across the park, thus making them harder to spot, the summer showers also bring forth stunning vegetation. This ensures mesmeric bird-watching opportunities as the local population finds itself bolstered by the migrants coming down from the Northern Hemisphere. Hwange National Park truly is a year-round wonderland.
After leaving Kanga Camp early in the morning to transfer by road to the Mana Main airstrip, we will board a scheduled flight to Hwange National Park. The flight from Mana Pools to Hwange is around one and half hours. Once we have landed in Hwange we will transfer by road to Somalisa Expeditions, still stopping for any photographic opportunities along the way.
Where we are staying in Hwange National Park: Somalisa Expeditions Camp
Our third and final Camp for the Mana Pools and Hwange Safari with Kanga Camp is Somalisa Expeditions Camp.
Somalisa Expeditions exudes adventure and brings you face to face with Africa’s giants. Situated in the perfect location with a very productive waterhole right in front of the Camp, you can sit in your armchair and let nature venture to you.
Capturing the ambiance of a mobile camp but with all the trimmings, Somalisa Expeditions offers with authenticity and comfort. Slightly more grounded with common areas on the land giving you a closer connection to the true wilderness experience, without sacrificing any luxury. The honest and genuine design of this camps truly grants you the space to explore Africa as it should be. Here you can make yourself at home in Serengeti-style tents with contemporary finishes.
Somalisa Expeditions is a place of bonfires, where stories and laughter are shared and where the striking African sky evolves from a bright orange blaze, with silhouetted acacia trees on the horizon, to the twilight of the night sky.
Mana Pools offers a unique variety in vegetation, from the open floodplains close to the Zambezi river, to the more dense vegetation found around Kango. With the majority of encounters being on foot, you don't want to carry gear that is too heavy. A lens similar to the Nikon 80-400mm or the Canon 100-400mm work well or alternatively if you are considering prime lenses a 300mm 2.8 or 400mm lens would work well. The Albida forests in Mana Pools are particularly impressive early in the mornings and late in the afternoons and you would without a doubt want to go a bit wider with your composition. A lens that is equivalent to a 70-200mm would work perfectly.
Hwange's vegetation is generally a bit more dense, however a lens of up to 400mm would be sufficient. A wide angle lens would without a doubt come in extremely handy, especially when photographing Elephants coming to the Camps waterhole. A lens equivalent to a 16-35mm or 24-70mm would be ideal for photographing these gentle giants around camp.
This is Why Travel With Wild Eye
- Two iconic destinations in Zimbabwe combined into one incredible adventure.
- Intimate on foot encounters in Mana Pools with two experienced guides.
- Combining the breathtaking floodplains of Mana Pools and the productive Kanga Pan into essentially the best that Mana Pools offers
- Close encounters with Elephants at Somalisa Expedition Camp
- Great Predator viewing during the dry season in Hwange
- Big herds of Elephants during the dry season in Hwange
- Seamless road and air transfers between destinations.
We look forward to welcoming you on the Mana Pools and Hwange Safari with Kanga Camp, the best experience in Zimbabwe.