Home » Top African Safaris » Walking Safaris in Zimbabwe

Walking Safaris in Zimbabwe

Walking Safaris in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa known for its dramatic landscape and diverse wildlife, much of it within parks, reserves, and safari areas. On the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls make a thundering 108m drop into narrow Batoka Gorge, where there are white-water rafting and bungee-jumping. Downstream are Matusadona and Mana Pools national parks, home to hippos, rhinos, and birdlife.

Mana pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park is located in Zimbabwe along the Zambezi River and the border of Zambia. The park covers an area of 2,612 square miles (6,766 sq km).

This broad plain area generates a series of lakes during the rainy season. As the waters begin to recede, the remaining pools become excellent game viewing locations as wildlife flocks to these natural watering holes. It is these remaining pools that draw the animals and create this spectacular game viewing setting.

The Mana Pools were combined with the Sapi Safari Area and Chewore Safari Area to create a single UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984. It is also classified as a wetland of international importance by Ramsar. The national park area is also contiguous with Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. Unfortunately, it is not easy to travel between the two parks.

The remoteness of the Mana Pools helps travelers engage the true sense of a wilderness experience while also increasing the intrigue and adventure of discovering Africa.

Although there will be more than four pools at different times based on the rainfall, there are four pools that are recognized as permanent in the area. In a local language, the word “mana” means four. The four permanent watering holes or pools are where the park draws its name.

The banks of the river beds and the pools give way to lush forests of acacia, baobabs, ebonies, fig, and mahogany trees. The pools are also home to Zimbabwe’s largest population of hippos and crocodiles. During the dry season, these are easily seen lining the banks of the pools sunning or grazing.

The dry season brings herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra, eland, waterbuck, antelope, and other ungulates to the pools for drinking water. This means it is an excellent place to find the predator species of cheetah, hyena, leopard, lion, and wild dog waiting to pounce on vulnerable prey.

Although the rhino used to graze amongst the mana pools, poachers have led it to extinction for the area. The other four of the Big 5, (lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo, can all be found in the park boundaries.

Birdwatchers will also enjoy the incredible opportunities the Mana Pools provide with over 450 species of birds nesting or migrating through the parking area.

Mana Pool Highlights:

Traveling to Zimbabwe to visit the Mana Pools National Park between the months of July and October are in for a special treat as wildlife tends to congregate near the pools of the floodplains as they dry season dries up watering holes in other areas.

Lion, leopard, hyena, and wild dog are the predators that visitors can hope to experience. Elephant, zebra, buffalo, hippopotamus, and crocodile are some of the more popular game species that visitors can hope to see.

One of the unique features of a Mana Pools experience is the ability to encounter and view wildlife from both the land and water. This gives stunning views of the dramatic landscapes as well as different views and perspectives of the wildlife. This increases your chances of seeing more and different wildlife species.

Walking safari experience

The Zambezi River begins its journey from a crack in a rock in the Congo and passes through Zambia, over two gorges (Victoria Falls being one), through two of the world’s largest dams, and into the Indian Ocean. It has long been a means of transport, carrying Monomatapa’s slaves, diamonds, gems, and other riches.

Today, Mana Pools National Park, located on the southern bank of the Zambezi River, is a peaceful place for visitors on a Zimbabwe safari tour to enjoy their gin and tonics during one of our luxurious canoeing safaris. The area, known as Zimbabwe’s Wildlife Riviera with nearly 541,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness, allows individuals on a Zimbabwe family safari or celebratory safari to witness a variety of wildlife, including over 380 species of bird, grazing buffalo, still crocodiles, wading elephants, and hippo families.

In addition to exceptional canoeing safaris, Mana Pools also boasts some of the greatest walking safaris in Africa. It’s the only park in Zimbabwe, and one of the few in Africa, where you can walk among the roaming wildlife. There isn’t a river in the world that offers the big game, wilderness location, and adventure that you’ll find at Mana Pools.

Hwange National Park

Covering more than 14,600 square kilometers(5,863 square miles) or 1,460,000 hectares it has more animals and a greater variety of species -107- than any other park in the country, and more than 400 species of birds.

It is situated in the southwest of Zimbabwe between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.

There are two distinct geographic zones; neither is able to support viable agriculture. The flora of the well-drained northern area, part of the Zambezi watershed, is dominated by mopane and mixed Terminalia, which is distinctly different from the rest.

Elsewhere the Kalahari scrublands, covered with stunted, scattered woodlands of teak and Umtshibi trees, drain into Botswana Makgadikgadi Depression. This habitat is characterized by marshy depressions, vleis, and fragile open grasslands on shallow soils.

In the nineteenth century, this land was the royal hunting reserve of Mzilikazi and his successor Lobengula. But the arrival of the first white hunters and settlers signaled the slaughter of its wildlife by the thousands. As their blood-soaked deep into the sparse soils, it left empty, useless wasteland, denuded of wildlife, unfit for farming.

It was declared a game reserve in 1928 and with neighboring Robins Game sanctuary, became a national park under the National Park Act of 1949. Originally, Robins Game sanctuary belonged to HG Robins, a cattle rancher.

Because his herds were constantly under attack by lion and leopard, Robins turned the ranch into a wildlife preserve. Later in exchange for a new house and a water supply, he gave the sanctuary to the government.

When founding member Ted Davidson walked across virtually every square kilometer in 1928-29 he discovered the wildlife was almost non-existent. The once teeming herds of elephant numbered fewer than 1000 and the rhinoceroses both black and white had been exterminated. Anyway, the poorly drained Kalahari sands, with their relatively low rainfall, ‘re unable to support permanent large wildlife populations. The seasonal pans and fossil river lines held water all too briefly after the rains, and only occasionally did any large numbers migrate into the region.

Walking experience

Experience Zimbabwe as the first explorers did, on foot and in awe of its untouched nature and allure. Walks through the Hwange National Park are allowed in private concessions and are an experience that is both awe-inspiring and humbling, as you tread along the very paths animals roam free on and observe their intimate lives from a careful distance. It is the perfect experience to allow you to appreciate the natural environment. The slow pace of the walk and the interpretive skills of the safari guides open your eyes to a new and fascinating world. The unique perspective garnered during a walk awakens a sense of fulfillment and sensory appreciation. The walk through the park leaves you feeling connected and at one with the earth, encouraging you to relax, unwind, and connect with nature.

The walking safari begins with a fireside coffee and delicious muffins before heading off on foot to explore some of nearly 2 500 hectares (6 200 acres) of the pristine African bush. Walkers will be instructed on the identification of various tracks, as well as on the smaller wildlife and plants that live in the park and that are often missed during a game drive. End the tour with a newfound appreciation of the bush, having explored the breath-taking landscape beneath the warm African sun.

Important Rules for an African walking safari

Walking in a single file

This means all the clients involved in a walking safari will line in one single line behind the lead guide, this is to avoid scattering in a vertical line which can scare the wildlife.

Don’t shot your rifle anyhow without extreme danger. This is usually a rule to be followed by the guide shooting an AK47 riffle can cause panic among the clients and increase aggressiveness in the animals like buffalos, elephants, and rhinos.

Silence and low voice are Golden

Silence and low voices are golden while in the bushwalk. While walking it is very important to keep voices low or even keep quiet, this will help to listen to any noises from the neighboring bushes.

Listening and obeying

Listening and obeying are very important in terrifying moments. While viewing animals it’s extremely important to listen to instructions from the lead guide as he knows the animal behaviors or he might have noticed a strange behavior change.

Never take a decision to run away from the group. Running away is equivalent to committing suicide, it’s very important to stick together behind the lead guide, it might sometimes be hard to take the instructions but it’s the way to survive.

Wear proper gear before the walk

Ensure that you wear your best walking shoes with good grip and also nature-friendly camouflaging colors in order to blend well with nature without scaring the animals one should avoid bright colors such as red, orange, striking yellow and others a nice gray khaki clothings are advised.

What you needed to pack for walking safaris?

In order to have an extremely successful walking safari clients need to ensure that they have the following with them before the walking safari starts as the sunrise comes up light bag pack, drinking water, sunscreen, hut, lather man, energy bars, good walking boots, and a rain jacket.

Best time for walking safari in Zimbabwe

“Between June and October Africa is at its most challenging – the bush is dry, the grasses are golden, and the animal densities are at their highest, congregating around the water sources. The drama of predation is at its highest, enjoyed through the sparse bush.

The elephants in the high season are pleasurable to watch as they hustle for water and puff up clouds of dust and splash mud while bathing,” he explains. On safari, water is a critical life source that forces change and evolution in the animal kingdom; wildlife constantly makes the long trek in search of water, the driving purpose of day-to-day survival.

The wild dog pups in the high season come out of the dens and start following the adults, what awesomeness to watch.”

Wildlife competition begins to intensify as waters start to recede between June to November. The famous Armchair Safari, and the Kanga Pan, really comes alive! Spot several species visiting the pan, as it is the only water source for a 10km radius. Combining Kanga Camp and Zambezi Expeditions will make sure you are getting the complete Mana Pools experience; to see the mighty Zambezi River teeming with wildlife, as well as the inland pan action.


Talk to one of our African adventure experts and let them tailor-make your safari

Inspirational journeys