Over 25 years ago, a family friend who rented the cottage on our farm, told me of a place in Zimbabwe where you could be on foot with elephants and lion. You could safely, and legally, leave your vehicle and spend some quality time on foot with these creatures. He showed me a photograph of an elephant walking though their camp in the middle of the day and I was of course, totally mesmerised.
Although Mana Pools was always on my bucket list, I just didn’t see how or when I would get organised and get up to the Northern border of Zimbabwe. There were just so many places higher up on the list which I wanted to visit which seemed easier to get too. The stars aligned and three elements came together which allowed me to visit this beautiful place and walk with these iconic Africa animals in their natural environments.
Thanks to the wonders of social media, I crossed paths with those three elements critical to getting people to Mana Pools – Wildeye, Morkel Erasmus and Marlon du Toit.
I huge thanks to all of them for a well oiled and fun trip.
Those who follow my global travels know that I don’t do daily diaries on my trip reports as they can be a bit long winded, unless of course, you are selling an Itinerary to a trip. I prefer to try and let my photography convey the scenes and magic that you could encounter. If you do decide to visit this hidden Eden of Africa, the photos below are some of the stunning scenes and animals that await your visit.
I would highly recommend visiting Mana Pools for a few days, even if its just for the experience. If you are a photographer (of any level of experience) you will be rewarded with wonderful photographs, incredible memories and a few new friends.
One of the star attractions in Mana Pools is a certain elephant bull called Boswell, who has taken to standing on his hind legs to grab and pull down foliage from the surrounding Ana trees. Morkel is a big fan of Boswell and his infectious obsession soon spread and infected the Camp with Boswell fever. Through some really hard work by guides (Morkel and Marlon) we all managed to get some photos of the celebrated elephant and his entourage in various shapes and forms.
The other highlight for me, and one of the main reasons for me going to Mana in the first place, was the chance to be up close with lions. Although there are many walking safaris up and down the length and breadth of Africa, this is the only place that I know of, where you can walk up to wild lions in their backyard, have a seat and simply observe them (an experienced guide is critical I might add)…..It’s an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Before leaving for Zimbabwe, I had a good look though my Roberts Bird Guide and looked for any possible lifers that I might encounter whilst up there. I was not disappointed. The biggest find for me was a Bat hawk in beautiful light, other new sightings for me was the Crowned Hornbill, White-browed Coucal, Meves’s Starling and little Grey-backed Camaroptera.
Memories of Mana:
- The excitement of getting there and the build up to the journey
- Proper wilderness camping
- Fantastic Guides and support staff
- Sleeping on the banks of the Zambezi with hippos snorting just below
- On foot with Lions and elephants
- It is now joint second place of my all time favourites places, tied with the Kgalagadi Transfrontier park.
Man some awesome shots. Those elephants along the river are awesome and that light in the wood is to dream off. This must have been one hell off a trip.
Thanks Peter. The light is just typical Africa. Stunning in the morning and evening – harsh during the day. The surroundings did help of course.
Great report with tons of wonderful photos. I put this place on my bucket list 🙂
Thanks Gabor. Glad you have added it. you will not be disappointed.
Nice report and shots Wayne. Magic place. Cant wait to head back in a months time.
Great report bud, you are right, the images speak for themselves and no day-to-day diary is necessary. Loved showing you the Mana Magic and I am looking forward to our next adventure somewhere wild!
Awesome report Wayne and flippin great photos! I had a blast and cant wait to do it again!!
Cheers Marlon. It was a great trip. Thanks for all the quality guiding mate.
A great experience exploring Mana with you Wayne … & agreed about the quality guiding from Morkel & Marlon – will be back there next year, & cannot wait!!
Wonderful shots Wayne, and an impressive range of new species sightings. One of these days we’ll get to Mana…!
[…] hard on the heels of a fantastic Mana Pools trip, I found myself driving in darkness towards the Kruger National Park. There are few better things […]
Awesome report. It sounds fantastic and I should make plans to get there myself. Great Shots!!
[…] Camping and dining in tents on the bank of the Zambezi while elephants walk past is one of those quintessential African experiences. (Trip report) […]