Mana Pools and Lower Zambezi - how they compare, being on opposite sides of the Zambezi river?
The Zambezi River. The 4th longest river in Africa, forming the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. This mighty body of water is a haven for wildlife on both sides of the border.
On opposite sides of the river lies the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe and the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. Both somewhat hidden gems in Africa.
Both reserves offering bucket list experiences for any avid traveller and photographer that can’t be experienced anywhere else on the continent.
Wild Eye has been running safaris to Mana Pools for a number of years now with great success. Mana Pools still remain one of the most popular destinations in Africa, but has it found some new and exciting competition?
In 2023 we will be running our first scheduled safari experience into the Lower Zambezi National Park. Although we have had numerous private guided safaris into the Lower Zambezi, we have never found what we felt to be right option, until now.
Wild Eye have partnered up with Tusk and Mane for this exciting new adventure on the banks of the Zambezi River on the Zambian side.
Before we go into too much detail about the Treasures of the Lower Zambezi, let's have a look what makes both Mana Pools and the Lower Zambezi unique and very different destinations and experiences.
Mana Pools needs little introduction to the avid wildlife photographer and safari enthusiast. It has been documented by many over the years and is probably most famous for the spectacular golden light, the albida forests and the elephants that stand on their hind legs to get to the winter thorn pods.
The majority of the encounters in Mana Pools are done on foot, an incredible experience especially when it comes to the iconic elephant bulls, many of which have become very relaxed with the presence of people on foot.
Mana Pools has also over the years been known as a good destination to see African wild dogs, although of late their numbers haven't increased much due to the rise in the lion population.
It is the walking aspect in Mana Pools that sets it apart from anywhere else in Africa. Whether you are approaching an elephant bull on foot, or exploring any of the four different pools that Mana is made up of, one gets a feeling of being closer to nature and in tune with everything that is happening around you. It allows you to use your senses, something you just don't get from only being in a vehicle.
Probably not as well known as Mana Pools, the Lower Zambezi National park in Zambia is, in my opinion, one of the best kept secrets in Africa. Situated literally on the opposite side of the river to Mana Pools, the Lower Zambezi offers something totally different to their neighbors.
One of the first differences that come to mind is the variety of activities that there is on offer in the lower Zambezi. During your time here you will have the option of doing standard open vehicle safaris and night drives (no night drives in Mana Pools), walking safaris, boat cruises & fishing (motorboats are allowed outside of Mana pools national park but not within the park) as well as canoeing down narrow, shallow channels (instead of the main Zambezi River in Mana Pools).
The Lower Zambezi is not as famous for the Elephants in golden light in the picture perfect albida forest, but has a considerably higher leopard population and of late boasts a very healthy wild dog population as well.
If you are struggling to decide between these two magical destinations, have a look at the information below.
To sum it up, both Mana Pools and Lower Zambezi remain amazing destinations, however if you have been to Mana Pools I would strongly encourage you to experience the Lower Zambezi as well. Both these destinations compliment one other beautifully and should be on every wildlife photographers bucket list.
Best of Mana Pools
This experience is set apart from any other and will showcase all of Mana Pools to you across 11 days. Nestled within the Zambezi Valley lies a creation of nature still pure, splendid, untouched and wild. With the mighty Zambezi flowing to the North, the wooded floodplain to the South plays host to one of the most astonishing wildlife experiences in Africa. This is a unique safari experience to Mana Pools in that it offers the opportunity to explore both the wildlife-rich floodplain as well as "the last waterhole" further inland known as Kanga Pan, as well as a 3 night stay at the wildest place in Africa - Chitake Springs.
Treasures of the Lower Zambezi
The Lower Zambezi National Park, by virtue of the Zambezi River and its parallel escarpment, is definitely one of Africa’s most scenic wilderness areas. Home to an impressive quantity and variety of wildlife which can be viewed by land based safari activities, from a variety of water based activities and from the camps themselves, all of which makes for a unique and exciting safari adventure.