The game reserve takes its name; Mana, from the Shona word meaning 'Four' and refers to the four large watering holes or pools that are formed by the Zambezi River. The pools provide a magnificent backdrop to the reserve with the 2 500km2 (965 square miles) river banks and sandbanks being flanked by large lush forests of Wild Figs, Baobabs and Mahogany trees.
The Park is at the Centre of a network of protected areas in Zimbabwe which stretch from Kariba to the Mozambique border. Mana Pools is located in Mashonaland West Province and falls under the ambit of the Hurungwe Rural District Council for higher level administrative purposes. There are over 20 000 km² of wildlife protected land in the vicinity of Mana Pools. It is in the Middle Zambezi Valley covering an area of 2196 square kilometres (848 square miles) extending from the Zambezi River in the north to the escarpment in the south. A timeless wilderness considered by many to be the Jewel of Zimbabwe and a Treasure for Africa.
A remote and truly 'African' safari park, Mana Pools National Park is located in the extreme north of Zimbabwe right on the Zambezi River and far from all major towns and settlements. Known to be one of the least developed National Parks in the whole of Southern Africa, Mana is simply bursting with birdlife and wildlife, especially during the dry season from June to October.
As the rainy season draws to an end and the lakes begin to dry up large herds of game animals enter the region in search of water and to eat the abundant grass trees that have flourished, resulting in excellent game viewing opportunities. During the rains, most of the big game animals move away from the river and into the escarpment. They start returning to the riverine areas from around April, as the pans in the bush dry up. As the year progresses, increasingly large herds of elephants and buffalos are seen, as well as kudu, eland, waterbuck, zebra, impala and many other antelope. The game is very relaxed about people on foot, making Mana Pools one of Africa’s best national parks for walking safaris.
Mana is home to the biggest concentration of Hippos and Crocodiles in the whole of Zimbabwe. Visitors entering the reserve during the dry season can also look forward to excellent sightings of large herds of Elephant and Buffalo. Eland, Zebra, Baboons and Waterbuck are also regularly seen in the area.