Visitors, tour operators and wildlife along the Zambezi River and in Mana Pools, who were sweltering in blistering October temperatures in excess of 45C (113F!)  had an unexpected early start to the rainy season on 28th October, when the heavens opened and deposited a downpour of 120mm (nearly 5ins) in the National Park and neighbouring areas in a few hours!  The rain continued and so far 166.5mm (over 6.5ins) has been recorded (an amazing amount this early in the season).

Access in and out of the Park was temporarily halted due to high winds and excess flooding.  Mana West airstrip (pictured above left) was completely waterlogged, while Mana Main (centre) remained wet, but accessible.  Boat transfers were organised along the Zambezi River from Chirundu to uplift tourism clients who had urgent onward travel arrangements, and tented safari camps were thoroughly inundated.  This was an adventure that most visitors had not anticipated and the tour operators could have done without!

However, the elephants and other wildlife of Mana Pools were delighted to have some relief from the excessive heat and dust that usually prevails at this time of year.  They continued to go about their daily lives apparently unperturbed by the muddy chaos around them!

Thanks to Shaun Jonathan Philp,  Sally Ann Mucklow and Zacharia Nyakomba for posting the pictures above on Social Media.

It is not uncommon for light early rains to fall in the Zambezi Valley in Oct/Nov, but a heavy downpour of this magnitude is unusual and an undoubted inconvenience to tourism operations.  However, fortunately, the hot summer sunshine quickly returns and it does not take long for everything to dry out.   The benefit of early rain is that bright green grass shoots will soon be appearing out of the parched ground, and the impala, buffalo, elephant and other grazers will have some relief, as their nutritional food supply is regenerated.

Read about what to expect at different seasons of the year in the Zambezi Valley in our Travel Advice section on Wild at this link:- Seasonal Safari Guide .