MANA POOLS: An end of season BIG surprise!

Wild Zambezi • 2 December 2017

Tented camp Tour Operators in Mana Pools National Park were faced with a BIG surprise as they wound down their safari season at the end of October 2017.

Sixteen hours of solid rain fell on 28th October, flooding the airstrips and filling all the pans and channels with water (see these before & after images from Bushlife Safaris).   

This was followed two weeks later, by gale-force winds and another torrential  downpour!!  

Welcome though it was, as the temperatures had reached the mid 40’sC in the shade, this was an unseasonally early start to the rainy season, and it caused a far bit of chaos! 

Says Kate, from Muwinilunga Safaris:- 

Flights in and out of Mana Pools were cancelled, international flights were missed and some guests got to spend an extra night in camp with us!

Serious measures were taken to get the guests to the airstrip the following day (as you can see in the pictures) but lots of fun and laughter was had through it all.  The canoes were unpacked and Elephant Wallow became a paddling ground!

A lion kill took place just outside camp that evening so alongside the sweet sounds of pitter-patter raindrops on tent roofs, were the hungry grunts and groans of the great kings of the bush!  Another magical moment in Mana! 

The gale-force winds on the night of 18th November caused more havoc. 

Some of Mwinilunga's tents were blown about or overturned, leaving a fair amount of chaos - but everyone rose to the occasion and treated it like a real adventure!   It was very good for bonding! said owner, Tess Arkwright!

The same storm inundated John's Camp, further downstream in Mana Pools, but they suffered even more damage when a large sausage tree was blown down right on top of one of the tents!  Fortunately there were no guests in camp at the time, and no-one was injured.  But there was an awful mess to clear up the next morning!

It is rare for such extreme weather events to occur as early in the year as October-November.  The visitors and wildlife of Mana Pools at this time of year are usually sweltering under very high temperatures, with the floodplain dry and dusty and desperate for life-giving rain.  Only the most dye-hard of wildlife enthusiasts visit during this period, which is when the tented tour operators usually pack up their camps for the season.  

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