The concrete jungle is filled with opportunities, buildings and people. However, it doesn’t exactly offer an actual wild experience, except for the traffic. Escape the hustle and bustle by venturing off and reconnect with Mother Nature and her prized oasis, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe. Be blown away this season by its natural, raw beauty. Spoil yourself with a truly authentic African safari and be amazed by the fantastic accommodation and endless possibilities. Here are some of our top selections.
Location: in a private concession adjacent to the western boundary of Mana Pools
Setting: overlooks a floodplain, the Zambezi River and the Zambian Escarpment. On the opposite bank of the river (in Zambia) there are some small villages which are home to subsistence farmers. Depending on wind direction one may hear the sounds of everyday village life
Road & Boat: in Lusaka, it's a 3-4 hour road transfer to Chirundu (depending on the day of the week and the number of lorries) followed by an hours boat transfer to camp. The last 1hr50 is most attractive as the road winds its way through the Zambian Escarpment down to the Zambezi River and the Chirundu border post
Accommodation: 10 spacious canvas units, 2 of which are two bedroom family units. Well laid out and attractively furnished each unit has the floor to ceiling gauze panels which can be unzipped to let the outside in. There is a covered deck, sitting area with sofa and table, wooden floor, dressing table with a charging station (no hairdryer), free standing fan and mosquito net. A screen and wardrobe separate the bedroom from the bathroom with its double vanity, W.C. and shower, which when the front panel is unzipped becomes an indoor/outdoor shower. Blending effortlessly into its surrounds the colour scheme of cream, teal and pops of blue is calming and peaceful
Guest areas: set under the shade of age-old mahogany and acacia trees is a large outdoor dining deck, an indoor dining area, a separate lounge with small bar and a sunken fire pit cum star gazing deck. A few steps away is an infinity pool with loungers and a (secluded) outdoor bath with a 'view'. Elephants frequently wander through camp and often hang around the dining deck
Activities: take place within Ruckomechi’s private concession and include day and night game drives, walking, sunset river cruises, catch-and-release fishing (from the river bank or by boat) and canoeing. As the concession is adjacent to Mana Pools, it is the only camp to offer motor boat excursions. If guests want to explore deeper into Mana Pools, they need to book a private vehicle
Sleep out: at Parachute Pan which is a wooden deck set high up in the branches of a massive rain-tree overlooking an open “vlei” area
Season: 01 Apr - 15 Nov
Children: minimum age six years. Children up to 16 years must share with an adult/s. Families with children between 6 - 12 years must book and pay for private activities. Minimum age for walking is 13 years and 16 years for canoeing
Comment: is ideal for those who are seeking a high degree of comfort and a 'soft' adventure Mana Pools experience in the company of good guides
Location: situated approx. 4km (20-minute drive) downstream from Ruckomechi
Setting: overlooks a floodplain, the Zambezi River and the Zambian Escarpment. On the opposite bank of the river (in Zambia) there are some small villages which are home to subsistence farmers. Depending on the wind sound does travel
Accommodation: 3 airy and elegant twin-bedded canvas tents each with 2 x ¾ beds. The pilot/guide/tour leader tent is of the same standard and can be used as a guest tent in the event of an exclusive use booking.
Guest areas: dining room, lounge and plunge pool
Activities: take place within Ruckomechi’s private concession and include day and night game drives, walking, sunset river cruises, catch-and-release fishing (from the river bank or by boat) and canoeing (on a shared basis with Ruckomechi Camp). As the Ruckomechi concession is adjacent to Mana Pool, it is the only camp to offer motor boat excursions. No private vehicles are available.
Season: 01 Apr - 15 Nov
Children: not permitted
Comment: small and intimate making it the perfect choice for a small group of friends. Is ideal for those who are seeking a comfortable, 'soft' adventure Mana Pools experience. There is no private vehicle
Kavinga Safari Camp
Location: in a private concession within the southern boundary of Mana Pools. Sixty kilometres inland from the Zambezi River, Kavinga is situated 1km upstream of the confluence of the Ruckomechi and Chiwuye rivers and 9kms from renowned Chitake Spring
Setting: built on the edge of an east facing cliff guests enjoy the sight of the sun rising high above the magnificent Zambezi Valley floor from the comfort of their bed. Just below camp is a pan with a carefully-disguised viewing 'Hide' almost at water level. Here guests are afforded stunning close-up photographic opportunities of an endless procession of game including herds of elephant and buffalo
Accommodation: 5 simple (almost minimalistic/industrial) canvas and steel units set on stilts approx. 2m above the ground. Each unit comprises of 2 x ¾ beds, and en-suite shower and w.c. Glass sliding doors lead out onto a 2 metre long covered veranda that falls in line with the edge of the cliff, creating a feeling of infinite space
Guest areas: the central dining and lounge area has a spacious upstairs deck protruding approximately 5 metres out from the cliff edge. Constructed out of concrete and with chromadek roofing the design is somewhat unexpected and unusual for a safari camp in such a wild and remote area
Activities: predominantly walking, tracking and exploring the hills and river systems on foot although day, evening and night drives are offered (8 guests per vehicle)
Season: operational year round but most productive months are Apr-early Dec
Children: not under ten years unless by prior arrangement. Minimum age for walking is 14 years as the area is extremely wild with constant presence of elephant and buffalo
Comment: although Kavingas unusual design may not appeal to everyone there is no doubt there will be those who will appreciate returning to a cool and comfortable environment after hours spent in the bush.
Location: in a remote private concession in the heart of the park 15km (1hr50 drive) inland from the Zambezi River
Setting: on the edge of Kanga Pan which is the only permanent water source within a 10km radius. Comprising of multiple open vlei lines, river systems of the Ruckomechi River, mopane woodland to Jesse bush and riverine forests this diverse area is a complete contrast to the flat Zambezi floodplain
Accommodation: 6 secluded tents each with a private deck overlooking the Pan. All the tents have just been refurbished with attractive new softs. The two honeymoon tents which double as family units are lovely. They comprise king-size bed, two-day beds, writing desk, wooden floor, floor to ceiling gauze windows (lots of zips!), good lighting, tea/coffee station (thermos of hot water is provided) and mosquito net. Behind the bed is hanging space, a double vanity and w.c. Set under the branches of a massive tree is an outside shower and bath. Although comfortable, the four standard Meru style tents are quite a bit smaller and have an outdoor shower, washbasin and flush loo.
Guest area: sculptured around the trunks of ancient ebony and nyala berry trees are four-tiered decks shaded by canvas sails. There are two seating decks, a dining deck, fire deck and pool deck
Activities: morning, afternoon and evening game drives and walking. Canoeing and fishing are on request as the Zambezi River is an hour's drive away. Bush dining accompanied by impromptu entertainment by the staff is a highlight.
Season: 1st April to 10 December
Children: not below seven years. As children under 16 are not permitted on walking safaris, nature walks around camp can be arranged. 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.
A traditional old style safari camp that is not going to win any awards for style, however, what it lacks in safari chic is more than made up for in warmth and character. Owned by pro guide Nick Murray, who is supported by a loyal, skilled and dedicated team, Vundu is one of a kind. Here the focus is on introducing guests to the real Mana where they may experience never to be forgotten close up interactions while tracking wild dog and lion on foot.
Over the years Nick has developed a deep understanding and respect for Mana's famous old bull elephants. To stand within a trunks length of these magnificent beasts as they reach up to feast on the nutritious pods a winter thorn tree is indeed a rare privilege.
Location: in a private concession within Mana Pools National Park. On the opposite bank of the Zambezi River is the Game Management Area of the Lower Zambezi in Zambia.
Setting: situated literally on the river's edge the view from camp is a wide stretch of water and the Zambia Escarpment. At night one can see the lights of a fishing camp.
Accommodation: tucked away in a strip of lush riverine vegetation are eight thatch and canvas chalets one of which is a family unit. Set on concrete slabs the spacious chalets can accommodate up to 3 double beds. Basic furnishings include tiled floors, open shelving, a desk, small table, good bedside lighting, free-standing fan, mosquito net and comfy chairs for relaxing. Bathrooms with shower, double vanity and flush loo are en-suite. The large family unit has two bedrooms separated by a sitting area. Shower, loo and washbasin are open air.
Guest areas: a large double storey building set on stilts under a soaring thatched roof. Comprises a convivial bar, communal dining area and lounge areas. Downstairs is a sandy fire pit where guests enjoy after dinner drinks and early morning breakfast. Behind the camp is a platform overlooking a vlei which attracts a variety of animals. Guests are offered 30 mins complimentary Wi-Fi a day (when working)
Activities: game drives are conducted in both Vundus private concession and the Park, walking, canoeing (half day or full day), birding and fishing from the river bank
Season: 01 May - 31 Dec
Children: ideally from 12 upwards but this is flexible. Families with children of 12 years and younger must pay for a private vehicle. This only applies to 3 guests as four guests are allocated a private vehicle. Walking will be tailored to suit families with children under 16. Canoeing is from 16
General: since January 2015 the BBC has used Vundu as a base from which to film wild dogs for a new wildlife series. During this period a lot has been learnt about the different packs, and as a result, guests are practically guaranteed wild dog sightings
Comment: Vundu is a typical example of why one shouldn't judge a book by its cover. One has to look beyond its dated décor and vehicles, which may have seen better days, and focus on Nick, his team, the game and the experience. No nonsense and down to earth Nick is passionate about Mana Pools and is hugely pro-active when it comes to supporting anti-poaching initiatives in the Zambezi Valley. Nick is not always in camp, so we recommend booking his as a private guide - there is an extra cost for this.
Indulge your senses in luxury, African tastes and an “Eden” of wildlife. We would love to chat to you about your next safari plans.