What’s there to love about camping? It's filthy, there are bugs everywhere, it's unhygienic and let's not get started on the sleeping arrangements. Whoever enjoys this must be undoubtedly crazy, right? Wrong. Mana Pools in Zimbabwe has taken the normal camping experience and put their twist on things.
What was standard camping, has now transformed into a blissful, authentic and rustic adventure, which will keep you coming back for more. You can look forward to the best luxury tents designed to keep pests out, luxurious bathrooms to use at your disposal, savoury and sweet dishes with bold flavours and a pure African safari escapade lead by some of the best guides in Africa. This will definitely be one for the books.
One of Africa's premier guides, owner Stretch Ferreira has been operating in Mana Pools for over 25 years and is legendary for his encyclopedic knowledge of Mana and its wildlife. Expect to crawl up to a wild dog or walk up to Mana's famous old bull elephants. Stretch and business partner, Flo Coughlan, is renowned for providing a personalised safari and the ultimate bush experience.
Location: meters from the Zambezi River in the heart of Mana Pools National Park
Activities: there is no set routine as each day is planned around animal movements and what the guests want to do. Stretch usually takes guests out on an early morning walk whereas drives (night drives not possible), canoeing and fishing (from the river bank and bring your own rods) may be in the company of another guide.
Season: 1 May-31October
Children: under 12 accepted if a camp is booked exclusively. May participate in walks if Stretch feels it's appropriate.
Comment: an authentic, classic camping experience that provides essential comforts, tasty, wholesome meals and moments of pure adrenalin rush! Most guests stay at least four nights with some staying up to a week or more. Combines well with Kanga, Ruckomechi and Kavinga which are all situated in private concessions.
Named after renowned safari guide John Stevens, John's Camp is an authentic yet charming camp. It offers the most gorgeous view across a floodplain to the Zambezi River and the Zambian escarpment in the distance. While the experience is intimate and highly personalised guests will enjoy exceptional service, top-notch guiding and excellent game viewing
Location: at the beginning of each season camp is set up at a semi-permanent site where it remains for the whole season
Accommodation: five generously spaced twin/double tents set under fly sheets and with large gauze windows. En-suite facilities include a flush loo, bucket shower, wash basin and bathroom amenities. Outside on the small veranda is a canvas hand basin and a couple of directors' chairs
Guest area: dining is al fresco - under a shady tree in the heat of the day or on the banks of the river in the moonlight. At night guests gather around the fire pit to plan the following day's activities
Activities: include walking, game drive and land-based catch and release fishing and photography. A private tour of the National Park Headquarters where guests can interact with the rangers who protect not only the wildlife but the park itself can be arranged. More adventurous guests may opt to sleep out under the stars in a 'mozzie dome' tent away from the main camp or spend an evening on a rustic platform
Season: 14 Apr -30 Nov
Children: no children under 12 unless the camp is booked exclusively
Guides: John Stevens joined Zimbabwe National Parks over 50 years ago and has worked in and around Mana Pools ever since. For the ultimate guiding know-how John is available to guide on requests and at additional cost.
Location: 3km upstream from Vundu Camp
Setting: overlooks a floodplain, the Zambezi River and Zambian Escarpment
Accommodation: four 6mx4m Meru style tents set on a concrete plinth with en-suite open-air shower with running water and flush loo. Each tent has lights but no plug points. Charging of camera equipment can be down in the main area
Activities: game drives, walking, canoeing, birding and fishing from the river bank
Season: 01 May - 31 Dec
Children: not under six years. Families with children of 12 years and younger must pay for a private vehicle. Walking will be tailored to suit families with children under 16
General: is a small, intimate no frills bush camp with a beautiful setting
Comment: offers exclusivity and privacy. To get the most out of staying at Little Vundu, we recommend booking Nick Murray as a private guide.
Location: at a designated operator site along the Zambezi River within Mana Pools National Park. Will be moving to a new site near Nkupi at the beginning of July 2017 until the end of the season
Setting: in the shade of ancient trees looking out over an expanse of floodplain with the river and Zambian Escarpment in the distance
Accommodation: from July. Seven tents each set on a wooden deck. Tents 6 & 7 are connected by a short walkway and are sold as the family unit. The maximum number of guests permitted in camp at any one time is 12. En-suite facilities feature a shower, with running water, wash basin and flush loo. Game wanders freely through camp and around the tents
Guest area: a mess tent with self-service bar, tea/coffee station, dining and seating areas. Breakfast is set out next to the campfire whereas lunch is served in the mess tent. Dinner may be taken in the mess tent or outside under the stars. Guests are often entertained by impromptu song and dance or storytelling.
Activities: morning and afternoon game drives, walking, fishing, birding and canoeing
Season: 1st April to 10 December
Children: not below seven years. Children under 16 are not able to participate in walking safaris however nature walks around camp are on offer. Canoeing is not recommended for children under 16. However, this is at the discretion of the guide. Families with children younger than 12 years will be required to pay for a private vehicle. Families of 5 or more guests automatically qualify for a private vehicle.
Just a thought: book Nic Polenakis as a private guide. As African Bush Camps head of guide training and Brand Ambassador Nic is one of southern Africa's most sought-after guides.
Don't miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity. Mana Pools is the hidden gem of the world that deserves to be explored. Make the most of it during the 2017/2018 safari season, we guarantee you won’t regret it.