Mana Pools Area - River Lodges and Camps along the Zambezi

Wild Zambezi • 26 September 2015

In this series of blogs we feature Wild Zambezi’s network partners which are Safari Lodges or Camps located directly on the Zambezi River within Zimbabwe. Check out our location maps, images and the links provided below to these beautiful places – all reliant on the wonderful wilderness surrounds of this magnificent river.

MANA POOLS AREA - ZAMBEZI RIVER LODGES & CAMPS

As it passes through Mana Pools National Park (which is part of a vast World Heritage Site covering the Zimbabwean side of the Middle Zambezi Valley), the Zambezi River is a wide, meandering stretch of water filled with wild animals (especially hippos and crocodiles) and abundant bird life.  The “floodplain” alluvial terraces and channels of Mana Pools are famous for their riverine woodlands dominated by dark mahogany trees and the pale green acacia-type “Winter-Thorns” which provide protein-rich “apple-ring” pods much favoured by wildlife.  Here the elephants, antelope, buffalo and zebra congregate for food and water during the dry, hot season months, with the predators not far behind them.

There are a number of small, wilderness-orientated lodges and camps along this stretch of the Zambezi River – some are permanent, some are mobile - most are seasonal (closed during the rainy season months of Dec - March because access into these remote areas is very limited).  Access during the safari season is either by air charter, 4x4 road transfer or self-drive.

Ruckomechi Camp (Wilderness Safaris)  - is a permanent camp set on a private concession in woodland near the confluence of the Zambezi and Ruckomechi Rivers at the upstream edge of Mana Pools National Park .  It has 10 spacious, luxury, en-suite tented units and an expansive wooden-decked central living area, with dining-sitting-bar area, pool, star-gazing deck and a famous “open-air bathroom” (pictured) overlooking the river floodplain. The camp also offers adventurous guests a “sleep-out” wooden deck “tree-house” option overlooking Parachute Pan behind the camp. Wildlife viewing opportunities from vehicles or boats are magnificent in this area as are birding and walking with a professional guide.   Also available nearby for exclusive use is "Little Ruckomechi tented camp" - which sleeps 6 people with an accompanying professional guide.

Vundu Camp - lies within the National Park and has 8 spacious tent-under thatch en-suite chalets and a large, double-story, wooden, central living area set under shady trees overlooking the river.   The main camp is complemented by “Little Vundu” - a smaller 5-tent basic bushcamp located 3kms upstream and designed for those who prefer a more traditional tented camp safari experience.  Wildlife viewing is exceptional in the area and the camp is renowned for its experienced professional guiding. Fishing and canoeing are additional activities on offer.

Mana Pools Safari Company (Editor's Note:  From 2017, this is now called John's Camp under Robin Pope Safaris Zimbabwe) and John Steven Guided Safaris –  This family combination offers exceptional, luxury, bespoke safaris based from a traditional, colonial-style tented safari camp with a modern touch, set on the banks of the river at Mana Pools.  John is one of Africa’s most experienced professional safari guides, and, together with his family members and staff, prides himself on offering a top-class safari experience. 

Zambezi Life Styles (African Bush Camps) – is a rustic yet elegant mobile 8-bedded tented camp set up in Mana Pools on the banks of the Zambezi River as a complement to African Bush Camps’ Kanga Camp which is located inland within the Park.  Open during the season (April-Nov) for private safaris, it offers superb walking, canoeing, fishing and game-driving activities, and can be combined with a stay at Kanga Camp for a more varied wilderness experience. 

Natureways Safaris – offer mobile or static tented camps, canoeing and walking safaris along the Zambezi River for small 6-8 people groups, catering for different tastes and budgets.  In Mana Pools, their static camps offer an authentic African experience with the added touch of comfort and luxury including full waiter service, spacious walk-in tents with en suite facilities and hot open air showers. All meals are freshly prepared in camp and all safaris are conducted by an experienced and knowledgeable professional guide.

Goliath Safaris – sleeps 12 people in an intimate, luxury tented safari camp with 6 East-African-style twin-bedded en-suite tents set on the banks of the Zambezi River in the heart of Mana Pools.  Exceptional wildlife experiences and walking safaris are personally conducted by Stretch Ferriera, who is one of Africa’s most renowned and experienced professional guides. Activities are flexible and include game drives, walks, close encounters with wildlife, day canoe trips and fishing.

ZimParks Lodges & Nyamepi Camp – there are 5 ZimParks self-catering lodges/cottages overlooking the river at Mana Pools, two are double-storey, sleeping 8 people each, while the remaining three are single storey, sleeping four each. They are basically equipped for self-catering, with beds, bedding, bathrooms, fridges and indoor/outdoor cooking facilities provided.  Prior booking is essential.  Nyamepi Campsite has about 30 sites for public camping, with braai/barbeque facilities, water points and several ablution blocks with toilets and hot showers.  There are also several “exclusive” campsites for private use dotted along the river frontage which are bookable in advance. These have only very basic “long-drop” facilities and no running water.

Chikwenya Safari Lodge – is situated at the downstream end of Mana Pools National Park on a private concession, at the confluence of the Sapi and Zambezi rivers. The lodge offers luxury accommodation in 10 private, en-suite chalets, with air conditioning, each with its own verandah and an outside bath and shower area.  The main lodge has an outside bar, swimming pool with viewing deck, with a dining and lounge area.  Activities include fishing, game drives, game cruises and walking.  (EDITOR'S NOTE (April 2017):  PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS CAMP HAS NOW CLOSED AND IS UNDER NEW OWNNERSHIP.  WE WILL PUBLISH MORE INFORMATION ABOUT IT WHEN IT REOPENS) 

If you have visited any of the above properties and would like to tell us about your experience, submit a Travel Review on Wild Zambezi.com at one of the above links.

Related blogs in this feature series: RIVER LODGES & CAMPS ALONG THE ZAMBEZI

Victoria Falls area - River Lodges & Camps along the Zambezi

Chirundu area - River Lodges & Camps along the Zambezi

Kariba Town - Hotels, Lodges & Self-catering Options

Lake Kariba & Matusadona:  Safari Lodges and camps in the Eastern Basin

Middle-Lower Zambezi area - River Lodges & Camps along the Zambezi

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