Mana Pools National Park – Rhodesia, (now Zimbabwe) in Southern Africa.
There are four main things to watch for “Sun, Stumps, Hippos and Crocs” our friendly guide informed us before we take to the water in our canoes.
The excitement and adrenalin of canoeing the Lower Zambezi River in Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO world Heritage Sight. The park is world renowned for canoeing and walking safaris, both of which offer some of Africa’s greatest wildlife encounters. I must admit I could not contain my enthusiasm any longer!
Mana means ‘four’ in the local Shona language and refers to the number of the parks permanent waterholes. It is around these waterholes that sightings of some of the Zambezi’s Valley 600 avain species are guaranteed.
My observations of the hinterland that borders the cracked mud pans, dry riverbeds and woodlands dotted with trees whose fruit is a delicacy of the many elephants. I had a feeling I was going to get my excietment and then much more.
Leaving the comfort of our tented camp where we have been pampered and enjoyed a fantastic view across the Zambezi toward the mid-channel islands rustling with reeds with an abundance of game viewing!
Once we started paddling another wide berthed mammal proved to be serious – the hippo. Our guide manovered our canoe past pods of these massive mammals, anticipating their movements after they had submerged closeby. Our guide also made loads of room for thse hippo leaving the land as they usually create quite a swell when bellyflopping into the river with all the finesse of a ‘pub drunk’!
After the adrenalin had subsided, we settled intot he Zambezi lazy current and enjoyed the nature all around us. Elephants swam across the river with trunks raised like snorkels, crocs submerged with eyes of intent and beautiful rainbow plumaged bee-eaters popped in and out of their nesting holes on the river bank.
As the setting sun burned the Zambezi, we drift intot he nights temporary bush camp. a campfire, a welcomed sundowner all ready and wating for me as was a comfortable tent, a bed and a loo with a serious view!
I watched the Zambezi escarpment smoulder in the days last light. A stunning view! I was in awe!
After dinner I lay on my camp bed and let the sounds of the bush wash over me, but I found my new mammoth frends bellyflopping had the last laugh, barking, splashing and belching into the night and later the roar of the lion.
In my dream….the silky waters of the Zambezi River caress the banks of Mana Pools National Park, gifting it wildlife less ordinary. The result is real safari experience that is simply extraordinary!