Mana Pools Safari
by Nick Ruddy
I found the Mana Pools canoeing enjoyable, but I think just the peace of mind that the whole region and experience brought, no work or worries throughout, made me relax. One morning we looked for wild dogs but never saw them. As we returned for breakfast we came across 6 lions: 1 young male and 5 female.
We did see the wild dog in the end just taking a nap under a tree, we saw hyena too.
Safari Company Performance
Natureways' service was fantastic - from the first moment with the administration staff helping all aspects of the holiday.
The guide was very knowledgeable; every trip, every corner had new information. I never expected to get so close to the various game and at the same time feel so safe.
The backup staff was very friendly and nothing was too much trouble. The picnics that were prepared were great with the basic facilities and provided everything we asked for.
We were a group of 2 for the visit. We used the canoe safari for the first 3 days and then drove with a Land Rover and walked for the remainder.
We stayed at the following camps, Vundu, Chessa, Ilala & Vine all along the banks of the Zambezi.
The first 3 were one night each and Vine was a 3 day location. They all provided beautiful settings.
The food was different every meal with great variety. Breakfast ranged from cereal, toast, mini meal porridge to full breakfast with sausage, bacon eggs etc.
They would change to suit what we required. Lunch was usually a picnic which was pie/meat salad, cakes and biscuits were home made.
Dinner was a three course meal with full table candles etc.
As this was my first visit I was full of hopes but understood that wildlife has a mind of its own. Here goes:
The first day on pick up to go back to camp we came across zebra and elephant on the track that only let us pass after first facing up and kicking dust at us. There were troops of baboons.
Sitting by the water hole for a while we saw numerous birds (the colours amazed me). Impala, crocodile and warthogs. During the canoeing we saw hippo (I'm sure they just frighten you then laugh).
More crocs, lots of birds, water buck, buffalo, kudu. One lunch at Mana mouth we sat and watched about 25 elephant just playing/bathing in the water.
There were so many birds that I cannot list them, over a hundred we marked off, but the birds of prey were magnificent, the smaller birds have some fantastic colouring.
The guide was great at spotting and directing us onto the calls. Personally I would say the guide helps gain the most out of the wildlife experience with the facts he passes on.
Typical Day and Other Activities
Discussed the night before with the guide what we wanted to do. Up about 05:00, game drive/walk.
Back for breakfast about 08:00, then on the river canoeing. Lunch 12:00-14:00/15:00 usually with a short walk. Back on the river to camp about 17:30.
Tea/drinks, hot shower, pre-dinner drinks, dinner about 19:30, discuss the day and the next day. Bed at whatever time, but usually fairly early.
We visited Harare for a couple of days.
I had no disappointments at all. I was full of hope and it passed my expectations.
I came back from the holiday full of excitement and wanting to pass it on to friends. I can now understand why the African people speak so passionately about the region.
Tips and Advice
The kit list was spot on, binoculars
each - don't try sharing.
The canoe can get a bit dodgy, so make a pact not to argue about the paddling.
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