Mana Pools Trip report – Zimbabwe

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.



"Mana Pools elephants - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Mana Pools is a place for elephants


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.



"Fork-tailed Drongo - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Fork-Tailed Drongo at sunset

"Side-striped Jackal - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Side-striped Jackal – a Lifer for me.

"Zambezi River Plains Elephants - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Zambezi River plains

"Burchell's Zebra in Mana pools - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Burchell’s Zebra in Mana pools old forest

"Chacma baboon playing - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Chacma baboon playing

"Mana Pools forest light - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Mana Pools forest light

"Black-winged Stilt - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Black-winged Stilt

"Boswell - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

The Legendary Boswell


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.


"Boswell feeding in Mana Pools - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Boswell feeding in Mana Pools


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.


"Walking with Lions - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Walking with sitting lions

"Mana Pools Lions - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Mana pools Lions – used to all the fuss…

"Mana Pools Elephant herd - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Mana Pools Elephant herd

"Crowned Hornbill - Mana Pools - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Crowned Hornbill – Mana Pools

"Tusks - Mana Pools - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"


"Elephants in the forest - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Elephants in the forest

"Inquisitive - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Inquisitive elephant.

"Impala - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"


"White-crested Helmet-shrike - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

White-crested Helmet-shrike

"Eland - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Eland in the forest

"Elephant in Mana Pools - Marinovich Wildlife Photography

Bossy elephant

"Warthog - Mana Pools - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

The hog with Warts

Elephants of Mana Pools - Zimbabwe"

Pristine wilderness

"Elephant calf on the move - Mana Pools"

Elephant calf on the move…

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.


"Bat Hawk - Mana Pools - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Bat Hawk – another Lifer for me

Stretch - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Stretching for food

"Young Chacma baboon - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Young Chacma baboon

"Elephant feeding in the Mana Pools National Park"

Elephant feeding in the Mana Pools National Park

"Africa's finest elephants - Mana Pools"

Africa’s finest elephants

"Namaqua Dove - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Namaqua Dove

"Close up elephant - Mana Pools"

Close up elephant

"Mana Pools scenic"

Typical Mana pools scene

"The big reach - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

The Big Reach

"Zebra Forest - Mana Pools in Zimbabwe"

Zebra Forest

"A mythical elephant - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

A mythical elephant

"Meves's Starling -  Mana Pools  - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Meves’s Starling – another lifer for me

"No more words - elephant magic"

No more words

"Young Chacman Baboon - Mana Pools in Zimbabwe"

Who is watching who

"Magical Light - Mana Pools"

“Magical forest light”

"Waterbuck in Mana pools - Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Waterbuck in Mana pools

"Chacma Baboon drinking - Mana Pools"

Thirsty work

"Leopard on a kille- Marinovich Wildlife Photography"

Fleeting Glimpse


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.

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