Mana Pools a la Windpomp (English)

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    Default Mana Pools a la Windpomp (English)

    Mana Pools a la Windpomp

    As threatened, I have translated Windpomp’s detailed and enthusiastic posting relating his recent experiences and thoughts on Mana Pools. I felt that it adds considerably to the fund of knowledge contained in this forum. This will particularly benefit those members, especially those from overseas, who are disadvantaged by not understanding the Afrikaans language. This has been done with the original author’s blessing.

    I have included his original URLs of the postings on this forum. If there are any discussion points, I would suggest addressing them to the original sites as he does not mind answering in English. Also refer to these sites for his photos which help to complete the picture. I particularly enjoyed his obvious enthusiasm and the almost whimsical nature of his report. Any mistakes in translation and interpretation are my own. If there are further postings I will endeavour to add them at some stage.



    POSTED 12/08/2012

    As I indicated in a previous posting, a friend and I set out for Mana Pools, Mlibisi (Manzini Lodge), in the Binga district, as well as Victoria Falls from the 20 July 2012 up to and including 08 August 2012.

    Because we originally struggled to obtain reliable information about Mana Pools, it was my intention to use the holiday to gather as much correct information as possible and to provide it for those interested. I thus went out of my way to try and gather this information.

    I will try to present the information as factually as possible, without allowing my personal prejudices to intrude too much. I would like to point out that the facts that I write were as I was informed by Zimbabwian residents, Mana Pools National Park personnel and other individuals that have visited this breathtaking park many times over the years.

    I specifically attempted to drive from camp to camp in Mana in order to photograph and to give you my personal impressions of them.

    There were only one or two camps that I could not visit, because of the park policy that tourists have exclusive use of their camp and should not be disturbed by inquisitive people like me. These camps are of no great interest for the average reader and will not influence your planning for Mana Pools.

    I am going to divide my feedback into the following categories and hopefully it will be of value for future visitors to Mana Pools.

    1. The routes (from Martin’s Drift/ Grobler’s Bridge to Mana Pools, then to Kariba Dam wall, back to the inflow of Lake Kariba at Mlibisi, the condition of the roads, availability of fuel, cost of fuel, the towns and their infrastructure such as banks, shops, meat, vegetables, water etc will be addressed).

    2. Overnight accommodation and facilities (on the way to Mana Pools, the costs, personal impressions etc. I want to discuss African Ranch-River Camp in Botswana, as well as Manzini Lodge in Mlibisi, in detail).

    3. The general border and customs rules (at Martin’s Drift/ Groblersbrug, also at Plumtree border post, I will also briefly discuss the traffic regulations, road blocks and Tollgates and personal experiences etc).

    4. Mana Pools (Where and how to book a camp at Mana with the correct contact details. Where to report before entering the park. The road conditions which will include if you can visit with a 4x2 vehicle, trailer etc. The additional costs to be paid at various offices. The park rules. The park personnel. Available literature and brochures available for purchase at the various offices as well as in the park itself. Mana Pool’s animals and plants. What you can actually buy at Mana Pools and the general infrastructure and many other aspects that I personally feel everybody should take note of).

    5.Then I want to discuss the following Mana holiday options:

    -Exclusive Camps
    -Communal Camps
    -Operator Camps
    -Concession Camps

    6. Individual discussion and photos of the Mana Pool Camps and Lodges:

    -Nyamepi Camp
    -Old Ndungu Camp 1&2
    -New Ndungu Camp 1&2
    -BBC Camp
    -Mucheni Camp 1&2
    -Mucheni Camp 3&4
    -Chitake Camp 1,2&3
    -Mana Mouth
    -Nkupe Camp
    -Mutsangu Lodge
    -Mutchichiri Lodge
    -New BBC Camp
    -Mubwee Lodge
    -Nyati Lodge
    -Vundu Point and Mana Drive (not camps).

    7. Short discussion on KaribaTown.

    8. Short discussion on Victoria Falls.

    Finally a few personal thoughts and opinions that I would like to share with you.

    It should be every nature and animal lover’s ambition to visit Mana Pools. Mana Pools is an unbelievable, special piece of the earth with breathtaking sunrises, natural vistas, bird and animal life, the Zambezi River for which words are inadequate. There is perpetually a peaceful but pregnant atmosphere in the air, of expectation for that elusive predator to make its appearance.

    Each day delivers its own unique new surprises and never in the 10 days that we camped at Mana Pools, was there a moment that I felt restless or bored.

    Mana Pools wakens nostalgic and evocative emotions. You feel in touch with nature and yourself. The deep realisation comes forward over how grateful and privileged you feel for the opportunity to experience the uniqueness and greatness of the creation that is Mana Pools.

    Every second day we went for a drive in the early morning and late afternoon to have a look at the animals. But believe me. You do not really have to do this. Pitch your camp. Wait. The animals, large and small come to you. They walk through the camp to the water or to feed on the banks of the Zambezi. Including lions, elephants, hyena, buffalo and many, many other animals. They all will visit at some time or other.

    The golden rule is to know that Mana Pools is the home of the animals. Thus allow all animals their space, do not anxiously run away or make sudden movements if an animal approaches too close to you. This can be misinterpreted by the animal with tragic results. Regard all animals as potentially dangerous. It does not matter if the baboon is cute or if the hyena looks like your dog at home. They remain wild and dangerous. Mana Pools, as one of the Game Rangers said, remains the lions pantry and they are always hungry!

    It was said at the camp that 5 weeks ago a foreign visitor was “taken” by a lion. The result was naturally fatal. This was confirmed by one of the Game Rangers as being true. In my opinion there were indeed some people at Mana Pools behaving irresponsibly at times.

    Two years ago a man was apparently “taken” by a lion at Chitake 1 when showering at sunset. The Game Rangers all agree that the 3 camps at Chitake have large numbers of lion and leopard.

    Elephants are plentiful. And I mean plentiful and they walk around all over the place. Thorn trees and their palatable foliage and pods are sought after by elephants. If you camp under one of these trees you will have frequent visits from hungry elephants. Nerves of steel are needed here, or otherwise camp away from animal paths to the water and stay away from under a thorn tree.

    Be warned that there is lots of dust everywhere. There are also problems with ants. If you put something on the ground it is full of ants the following day. As a result of the dust campers need to be considerate and drive slowly in the camps, so that unnecessary dust is not raised.

    The nights were nice and warm. We had no rain. There were no insects by day or night, attracted to the lights. There were mosquitoes and we used the recipe of: 2 x 100ml citronella oil (available at chemists, not the lamp oil) mixed with 500ml Dettol and there were no mosquito bites. The mixture is placed in an old spray bottle and sprayed on as required. It does not smell too bad, the citrus smell, mainly lemon, hangs in the air. The mixture is not oily on the skin.

    Mana Pools has Game Rangers that carry out daily foot patrols. Their aim basically is to ensure that the baboons and monkeys are not too much of a nuisance. Occasionally they let off a shot and the baboons and monkeys flee. If you forget to seal and put away your food they will steal and ruin it in a blink of an eye. No monkey, baboon or hyena may be fed. If you are caught doing this you will summarily be escorted from the park.

    Most of the camps at Mana Pools are on the banks of the Zambesi. There are camps away from the river. Humans and animals utilise this unbelievable river daily, hippos and crocodiles are plentiful. Swimming is naturally forbidden. You may not even walk ankle deep in the water. You will definitely be “taken” by a crocodile.

    July was understandably not the right time for fishing because the water is too cold and the fish do not bite. There were some diehards that tried and I did actually saw a fisherman that landed a fish or two. The best time for fishing at Mana Pools is September to April.

    According to campers that have been visiting Mana Pools every year since 1985, it is very hot in November, December and January. These months are also recognised as having large numbers of Tsetse Flies. It also rains a lot and the roads can become unusable.

    I will also in the next 8 days complete further detail on the above points with relevant photographs.

    If any person needs urgent information feel free to contact Tommie Fourie at cell: 082 4646 555

    POSTED 14/08/2012


    It is important that all readers of this feedback understand that I have tried to present all information factually. The aim of my writings is not to reflect a negative attack (I do not want to influence negatively). My aim, without exception, is to make readers aware of what I experienced.

    Therefore I would like to declare the following under the heading Mana Holiday Options:

    The use of the word “Exclusive” w.r.t. Mana Pools means that you as a camper at Mana Pools, will have the exclusive use of that camp. No other visitors at Mana Pools have the right to enter your camp for whatever reason, whilst you camp there. There are also no other campers within view of your camp.

    Mana Pools management are very strict about the camper’s privacy and the campsites are created so that you and your family camp “alone” in Mana Pools. Depending on which Exclusive Camp is booked, you can camp on the banks of the Zambezi or completely away from the ZambeziRiver, for example at the spring in the dry river bed at Chitake 1,2 & 3.

    At these exclusive camps you and your family are “alone and isolated” which means that you will not be bothered by other tourists. You will receive many visits from all the animals living in the park, that will walk through your camp day and night.

    In the exclusive camps, in 90% of those I visited, a pre-built braai place is offered. ( There were camps that had no barbeque place). In my opinion the braai stand is impractical and we braaied either next to the barbeque place or on a skottel.

    In 95% of cases there toilets (longdrops) are provided. The toilets are only a 210 litre empty drum with the bottem cut out. Then a hole has been dug in the ground and the drum is placed over this. About a foot (25-30cm) sticks out above the ground. On the lid a hole in the shape of your rear end is cut out. This is the “toilet” on which you sit. A canvas screen is pitched around the toilet for privacy. (It is my opinion that every man and his wife must take along a toilet seat to sit on).

    There are no showers. Water is drawn from the river and with this you have to wash or use in your own shower that you have taken with. The water cannot be drunk. (Boil the water and if you have chlorine tablets with you, add them to the water to ensure it is fit for human consumption).

    Lastly I saw that all the exclusive camps have beautiful trees under which you can place your tent or off-road caravan. These are the facilities offered with the term “exclusive camp” in Zimbabwe. This does not mean luxury, this means isolation, the illusion that the whole park consists only of you and the animals.

    Finally I want to remind that when a tree or an area are chosen to set up camp, be aware of animal footpaths down to the river. They are easily and clearly recognisable. Especially elephants, hippos and other antelope are inclined to use the same paths to the water, thus you do not want to find yourself in the road of the animals. It must be reported and all readers must take note, thorn trees are a popular snack, especially the pods, amongst elephants.

    I mean elephants are besotted with these trees!!!!! Be careful not to camp under such a tree, otherwise you will have to take a regular walk when the elephants come to visit.

    I would like to add something about the behaviour of elephants. They are not aggressive at all. Many elephants moved through my camp, between the tables and chairs, without touching even bumping one of them. They will eat vegetables and mielie meal if they are lying in the open on the table….

    The photos attached to this report, show the facilities (exclusive) to be expected at these camps.

    We camped at Mana as follows:
    3 nights/4 days at New Ndungu 2 (Exclusive Camp)
    3 nights/4 days at New BBC (Exclusive Camp)
    3 nights at Nyamepi camp (Communal Camp)

    All the exclusive camps will soon individually be discussed with relevant photos.

    My next posting will discuss the communal camps.

    POSTED 15/08/2012

    Mana Pools: Holiday Option- Communal Camp (Main Camp-Nyamepi)
    The communal camp offers one a lot more infrastructure compared to that at the exclusive camps. There are for instance ablution facilities for men and women. There are flush toilets with showers offering hot water. (Water is heated by the use of fire and donkeys that the park personnel handle).
    There are also water points (taps) at strategic points throughout the camp where campers can obtain water for washing up, cooking and drinking.
    The camp areas all have a built-in braai place.
    There is no shop to buy things. There are also no people sitting and selling curios. You have to take everything with you to be self sufficient.
    A total of 36 camp sites are set out in the communal camp of which a number are on the river front and others in the open areas away from the river. It is my opinion that the camps a little away from the river bank are just as good as those on the bank. Yes it is obviously nice on the banks of the Zambezi, but all of the camps have some sort of a river view.
    The charges to camp on the river are also much more expensive per day than those in the middle of the camp. All have the use of all of the facilities in the camp. There are park personnel that clean the ablutions daily.
    The communal camp is also unfenced and all the animals can walk through your camp day or night. There was more trouble from monkeys in this camp than in the exclusive camps. A game ranger walks about daily to chase the monkeys away. Every now and then he will fire a shot into the air and the rogues scatter and peace settles for about two hours. But be warned: Forget to put away your food and the monkeys will definitely steal it.
    There is a feeling of “safety” in the camp because of all the other campers. We had a group of 30 school children that also camped there and at times it was a little noisy, but this is what you can expect with the numbers of campers around you. But do not think that there is no chance of walking into a lion on the way to the showers. It is very possible!
    I will address this communal camp (Main Camp-Nyamepi) later in more detail. I will identify the individual camp numbers of the camp sites on the Zambezi bank as well as the others in the middle.

    POSTED 16/08/2012

    Mana Pools: The Route – Martin’s Drift/ GroblersBridge to Mana Pools

    Because South Africans travel from all directions to Zimbabwe we decided to start the feedback on this route from Martin’s Drift/ Grobler’s Bridge to Mana Pools.

    Martin’s Drift/ Grobler’s Bridge to Sherwood in Botswana = 15km
    Sherwood to Palapye in Botswana = 60km
    Palapye to Francistown in Botswana = 161km
    Francistown to Ramokawebana ( Plumtree Zimbabwe Border Post) = 85km
    Ramokawebana ( Plumtree Zimbabwe Border Post) to Bulawayo = 100km
    Bulawayo to Gweru = 180km
    Gweru to Kwekwe = 63km
    Kwekwe to Kadoma = 80km
    Kadoma to Chegutu = 36km
    Chegutu to Chihoyi = 91km
    Chinhoyi to Karoi = 89km
    Karoi to Makuti = 104km
    Makuti to Marongora (compulsory check in office for visitors to Mana Pools) = 15km
    Marongora to Mana Pools turnoff (Tsetse Fly Control Point ) = 10km
    Tsetse Fly Control Point to “treehole check in point” (Dirt road) =32km
    “Treehole check in point” to Mana Pools final destination (Dirt road) =45km

    Total km to Mana Pools = 1166km

    Road conditions

    All the roads from the Botswana border post through the Zimbabwe border post to the turnoff after Marongora (Tsetse Fly Control Point), are tarred.
    The tar road is in good condition. You could 120km/hr where indicated. Where the speed limit indicates 80km/hr it is wise to obey it.
    In general the tar roads are wide. There are regular roadside stops where coffee and rusks can be enjoyed. We found that most of the cement chairs and tables were clean.

    The first dirt road was 10km after Marongora (where all Mana Pool visitors have to report). There is a Tsetse Fly control Point here. Here you turn right and from there to Mana Pools it is a dirt road. The first 32km until the “treehole check in point” is very bad and severely corrugated. Our average driving speed was between 30 to 40km/hr. There were other 4x4 vehicles travelling at between 60 to 80km/hr.

    From the Treehole check in point to Mana Pools it is still a dirt road and the distance is 45km. The road was bad at the time we visited, there were some sandy sections with corrugated sections in between. Our speed varied, but generally it was slow.

    When we left Mana Pools this specific road had been graded. It was a pleasure to drive the 45km.

    It is possible to visit Mana Pools with a 4 x 2 bakkie. But I am not sure that all the roads in Mana Pools (such as Mana Drive) are suitable for a 4 x 2 bakkie. I personally would not consider visiting Mana Pools with a 4 x 2 vehicle. You will reach your destination but at the risk of damage to the vehicle. I would only take a caravan like the Xplorer or Xcape to Mana Pools. Normal caravans will not cope with the road.
    There was a normal trailer next to the Mana Pools dirt road, it seemed as if the owner had left it there. It seemed to have problems with the wheels. When we left Mana Pools 12 days later this trailer was still there abandoned next to the road.

    Dust and Tsetse Flies

    Mana Pools is unbelievable. The planning of the roads in Mana Pools is very good. There is no intrusion into the animal’s space in popular places just to get closer to popular viewing sites.
    It is also unlawful to ride off-road or to make your own exploratory track. The park roads offer more than enough opportunities to observe all the animal’s activities.

    But remember, there is fine dust in the road that easily billows up when driving and it has a habit of getting in everywhere in the vehicle.

    Tsetse flies were, during our visit July 2012/ August 2012, not yet very active. There were painful bites now and then but really minimal.
    Campers visiting Mana Pools for the last 20 years say that the Tsetse flies are much more active from October to February. Vehicle windows then need to be kept closed. They are more plentiful where there are animal concentrations. The bite is painful but the campers told that they had never heard of anyone suffering from “sleeping sickness” as a result of a Tsetse fly bite.

    We used the recipe of 200ml citronella oil (available from chemists. Not the sort that burns in lamps), mixed with 500ml of Dettol. The mixture is placed in a spray bottle and applied regularly. It has a pleasant odour and is not oily at all on the skin. It also keeps biting mosquitoes away.
    There were virtually no flying insects or gnats during our visit. Not even at night when the gas lamps were alight. We were told that this changes the more it rains from October onwards.


    Fuel was available all the way to Karoi. From there to Makuti and to Mana Pools there was no diesel or petrol to buy. The general currency used in Zimbabwe is the US Dollar.

    Diesel on average was $1,29 per litre
    Petrol on average was $1,42 per litre

    We had a flat tyre on a Sunday morning in Gweru and there was a business open that repaired tyres at $4


    In the larger towns such as Kwekwe, Gweru, Bulawayo we found Shoprite, OK, TM (Supermarket group). Most of these shops had a wide variety of groceries to purchase. But not all the shops have good butcheries. The meat did not look very good either. The vegetables and fruit were wilted and old. But on the other hand there were some that were very good and had good meat. The general price for groceries was much the same as in South Africa.

    Of course there is no electricity at Mana Pools. Remember this when buying meat. Water is a major problem throughout Zimbabwe. You cannot drink from taps. Most places pump directly from the Zambezi or LakeKariba. This is not fit for direct drinking. Thus buy enough water. We had one incident when a 5 litre bottle of purchased water began stinking one day after we opened it. There were no upset stomachs.

    In Mana Pools the water at the taps can be drunk. There is a water filter installation at Nyamepi camp.

    Roaming or Zim Sim Card

    We were unaware that one of our cell phones had Vodacom Roaming activated. We bought a Zim Sim Card for $6 and airtime for $5. Only after we left the town did we realise that if you phone *111#, nobody answers. You are put on wait and wait and then are cut off. This continued for 10 days.

    We then found out that you have to register with a yellow form and a copy of your Identity document. Thereafter you can use your sim card. We went to the post office, followed the procedure and after 3 days, nothing (you ring the cell company’s help number: “we value you as a client, all our consultants are busy, do not hang up, we will help you.” So it went on for 5 minutes and they then cut you off).

    On the way to Mlibisi we stopped at Gweru where the cell phone company have a branch. After a long queue I was eventually helped. The long and the short of the story is that foreigners cannot be registered to use the network. You must have a permanent address in Zimbabwe. There are also counterfeit sim cards in circulation. Mine was not, but my problem was a permanent address. So arrange for roaming if you want to have contact with home.


    There are about 6 tollgates between Plumtree and Mana Pools on the route we took. The cost is $1 to pass. You do receive a receipt. The roads before and after the tollgate are in exactly the same condition.

    Road blocks

    From Plumtree border post to Bulawayo we went through 5 road blocks.

    Not once did the police officials try to give us a hard time or try to extract a note or two out of us.
    When the police official saw that we were a South African vehicle, we were immediately waved through. When they did actually stop us, it was to enquire if we were having a pleasant and safe trip. Perhaps they will ask to see the TIP certificate and Road permit. No aggression or attitude was experienced by us. Everyone was friendly and helpful.

    The Friendly people of Zimbabwe

    It was our experience throughout Zimbabwe that all the people of Zimbabwe are extremely friendly and helpful. People at bus stops and along the road will give friendly smiles and wave.

    For one day and night we visited KaribaTown to see the dam wall. We drive into the first garage to enquire where we can find a post office. We meet Ashleigh, on her way to Harare. When she hears that we want to phone South Africa from the post office, she immediately hands over her cell phone and insists that we use this to phone.
    After the phone call she asks if we have already arranged somewhere to sleep over in Kariba. We had decided that morning to visit Kariba dam wall and thus had not booked ahead. She would not hear of us sleeping over at any place other than her home.
    Her home is a beautiful large thatch house with an unbelievable view over LakeKariba. She said farewell and headed to Harare.
    You could have knocked me over with a feather…This was hospitality as never known before. We had known Ashleigh for 5 minutes, stranger to her and she trusts us and offers us total entrance to her home. We slept very well that night.
    Thank you Ashleigh. You dumbfounded us!!!

    At Mana Pools there was Lovemore and Trimore, both park employees, on duty at the office. They were exceptionally helpful and friendly. Lovemore is an accomplished paddler and at any time take visitors out on the Zambezi or lead them on foot into the bush. His bush and animal knowledge is exceptionally good. Park personnel have permission, in their private time, to render this service and his costs per day vary between $100-150.

    Meat, Groceries or Fruit

    There has been a lot written about meat, fruit and vegetables. The facts are:

    You may not take any meat, vegetables or fruit from South Africa over the border into Botswana. Not even vacuum packed. The same rule applies from Botswana into Zimbabwe. I saw many tourists unpacking so that meat, vegetables and fruit could be confiscated by the border officials.
    It is true that meat, vegetables and fruit can be hidden amongst your luggage. I seem to remember that I read at the border posts, that if you fail to declare any meat, vegetables or fruit, a fine of $2000 will be issued. I am not completely sure if I did in fact read this. I mention this in any case.

    With our journey in Botswana to Mana Pools and back to South Africa we passed through many foot and mouth control points. They are very strict and do not hesitate to search for meat, vegetables and fruit.

    In Zimbabwe there are shops and butcheries where all the necessary meat, vegetables and fruit can be bought. You may not take any fruit into Mana Pools itself.

    Zimbabwe Banks

    Only in large towns such as Bulawayo, Gweru etc are there banks that have ATM’s that accept VISA cards. We used Barclay’s. MASTERCARD was sometimes accepted. Otherwise you cannot draw money.

    Many places such as motels and hotels differ over the acceptance of credit cards. Some want cash and others accept VISA cards.
    We took Dollars along in small denominations between 1$. 5$, 10$ and 20$. This worked well for us.

    At Marongora where you check in for Mana Pools, there are no card facilities and cash is expected.

    At the border posts where road tax needs to be paid, they accept only cash (Dollar, Pula or Rand).

    Fines along the road are often $20 and must immediately be paid in cash.

    I am going camping at Mana Pools. What must I take?

    You need to know that if you are visiting Mana Pools as a camper, you need to be self sufficient for all that you will need. If you forget something you will have to do without it. It is best to make a list of the things you want to take with, such as:

    -Water on the way to Mana is needed (Drinking water can be obtained at Nyamepi camp)
    -Extra tyres
    -Enough cash
    -Camping equipment
    -You need to know your vehicle, perhaps a part that might give trouble, rather take that part with you.
    -Identity documents and insurance documents ( Vehicle and trailer/ caravan papers)

    No generators may be used at Mana Pools. There is no electricity.

    Caravan parks on the way to Mana Pools

    On our route we enquired from Zimbabwians over the use of available caravan parks that we found on our way. We were immediately advised not to camp in caravan parks or to overnight there.

    It was strongly recommended that we should use a motel, hotel or guest house as overnight accommodation.

    On the way to Gweru we stayed over at a motel. It was clean. The costs were $100 per double room with breakfast. I would not recommend the T-bone steaks. They were the toughest T-bones that we have ever eaten. It was the same at the Makuti hotel. Here a double room was $66 for the night, including breakfast.
    In each motel, hotel and guest house we overnighted in, we found them to be clean, with warm water and fresh bedding.

    Without being critical it is obvious that the Zimbabwians try hard to offer the tourists the best they can. Most of the buildings were slightly run down, for instance ceilings were stained with watermarks and there are holes in the ceilings not yet repaired. In all cases the buildings would appear better with a layer of paint. But before I am crucified, I want to say that this is not presented as negative criticism. It was obvious everywhere, that everyone tries to present the best they can for tourists.

    Tracks 4 Africa

    I believe an insert is necessary concerning tracks 4 africa and the effective use of it on the GPS.

    There were many preparations costing money, for instance, the shock absorbers were replaced and the bakkie underwent a major service. There were other irritations that had crept in over the years that were repaired. This hurt the pocket. But we wanted to make sure the bakkie would take us safely there and back.

    It almost lead to an argument as to whether we must acquire tracks 4 africa and if it was really needed. This would mean a further R800?

    We decided to buy tracks 4 africa.

    This was probably one of the best decisions we made. Everywhere we travelled in Botswana and Zimbabwe, tracks for Africa was absolutely correct. The GPS could at all times show us where we were, the surroundings, the street names etc. There were times on entering a town when we needed to know where accommodation, diesel, places of interest etc, were. The GPS with tracks 4 africa could immediately give us the distances with co-ordinates.

    At Mana Pools it was the same, most of the camps, directions and notifications were absolutely correct. When we left Mana for Mlibisi at the source of LakeKariba, we were able to find an alternate route, because of the negative feedback we received on the bad road we had originally planned to use.

    The alternative route was through very primitive country areas for long distances. Tracks 4 africa was an absolute life saver with correct information, so that we were able to drive to the destination without becoming lost. Correct information about tar and dirt roads and even where potholes were present!

    I strongly recommend any traveller venturing into Africa to buy this programme with all its advantages. You save many hours of being lost and exclude possibly dangerous areas with this fantastic technology!!!!

    POSTED 17/08/2012 at:

    Mana Pools: Mucheni 1 & 4 “ Operator Camps”

    I have already discussed the Exclusive camps in broad outline as well as the communal camps in order to make the word description clear. Briefly I want to discuss the Operator Camps here.
    Operator Camps
    There may be more operator camps that are made available by the Mana Pools Tourism Board. I discuss only those I was aware of during our visit to Mana Pools. So I admit that there may well be others.
    Mucheni 1 & 4 are two camps that are managed as operator camps. What I understand is that:
    - Bookings are made via a tour operator with Mana Pools and then offered to prospective visitors at a cost.
    - We spoke to Clea Bridges and she says that everything is arranged for the campers.
    - The tour operator arrives ahead of the visitors at Mana Pools. Camp is set up.
    - All the campers sleep in the tents provided.
    - A long table is set on the bank of the Zambezi where everyone eats with a view over the mighty river.
    - There are also private mobile flush toilets.
    - There are hot showers.
    -There are cooks to prepare meals.
    -There are cleaners that clear up after meals and take down the camp at the end.
    - There are one or more tour leaders qualified to take all the visitors on safari and also to inform them about animals, birds and plant life.
    - Included are 3 meals per day, cooldrinks, spirits and beer are included.
    - The visitor has the option to fly into Mana Pools or can arrive in their own transport.
    - There are no real restrictions on the size of the group and children may be included.
    - All the 4x4 vehicles are provided for the game drives.
    - Mucheni 1 & 4 are unbelievably attractive and open so that all the animals on the plains can easily be seen. The river bank is also fantastic and offers hippos, elephant, buffalo, crocodile and a lot more action for the visitor. The sunrise and the most beautiful sunsets can be captured on camera.
    - The costs per day per person, all inclusive with a definite luxury emphasis, contrast with the hard African atmosphere. Between $380 - $420.
    -Contact: Clea Bridges, [email protected] or [email protected]
    - There was also an unbelievably attractive area managed as an operator area between Nyamepi (Main Camp) and Nkupe Camp. We were not allowed to trouble them with questions.
    The photographs show the operator camps Mucheni 1 & 4, with a photo of the Kavinga Safari tour group’s camp. (Remember that any camper’s privacy at Mana Pools is respected by all. Thus to obtain access to occupied camps is difficult.)
    I repeat that I do not want to give the impression that these are the only operator camps managed like this. This is only the information that I could obtain during my holiday at Mana Pools.

    POSTED 17/08/2012 at:

    Mana Pools: “Concession Camps”
    I have already in broad terms covered the Exclusive Camps, Communal Camp and “Operator Camps”. The final holiday option that Mana Pools offers visitors is “Concession Camps”.
    Concession Camps
    I can offer little information here.
    The long and short of these camps is that the Mana Pools Tourism Board allocates an exclusive area to a group. This group manages the area as a business and are assured that this area “belongs” to them for the agreed period. Money is paid to Mana Pools by this group for the exclusive use and ownership of this area.
    The same type of facilities are offered to the visitor as discussed under “Operator Camps”.
    The only difference is that the group is very strict about who can drive around on “their ground”….I realised rapidly how rudely and directly you will be asked to leave an exclusive area.
    We were driving up a wide dry river bed and came upon a buffalo that had been killed by lions. (Thus the vulture photo). But there was no time for further photos. I had to leave the area immediately.
    I did see that there was a landing strip (grassed surface) and also noticed private aircraft moving in and out the area.
    Who owns the concession, the costs involved to visit there and what they offer, I do not know and could not find out. I believe more information is available from Mans Pools Tourism Board- in Harare.
    After the slight confrontation, we did not cross paths with any 4x4 vehicles from this group or their tourists. But they appeared to be very busy and I understand that this is for the high income group.
    I include 2 or 3 stolen photos that I could take before I was shown away.

    POSTED 17/08/2012 at:

    Mana Pools: Nyamepi Communal Camp (Main Camp)

    I have in broad terms already discussed the infrastructure of the Communal camp – Nyamepi.
    Nyamepi Camp
    This camp is exceptionally well suited in all that is offered to the camper with his “off road caravan” or to the camper and his tent. If the tent is on the ground or on the roof of his 4x4 makes no difference.
    The infrastructure offered allows you to experience Mana Pools with the comfort of a flush toilet and hot shower. The water in the taps is filtered and can be drunk. Water points are plentiful throughout the camp for convenient use by all.
    The toilets and showers are cleaned daily by Mana personnel and they ensure that the “donkeys” are stoked for hot water. The staff are very helpful and friendly.
    Nyamepi is suitable for the family, the bosom friends exploring Zimbabwe as a large group, the group of school children and the couples – old and young – that want to tame Mana Pools together…
    This camp has areas on the Zambezi bank to camp, or depending on your budget, areas in the middle of the camp.
    As far as I can tell South Africans are offered a better price as we are part of the SADC countries. Ask for the discount. (At VicFalls the prices are displayed thus at the entrance: Zimbabwe Price/ SADC Price/ International Price)
    We had 3 nights camping at Nyamepi and can honestly say “IT WAS VERY, VERY NICE”. The atmosphere is fantastic. This camp makes your visit comfortable. All the animals walk through the camp day and night. Nyamepi has no fences.
    It was also really nice to quickly share experiences at Mana Pools with fellow campers. You also feel more sheltered in the camp as a result of the “group effect”. The situation of the camp is very good. All paths are nearby and accessible if you want to drive out to see animals in the early mornings or late afternoons.
    Nyamepi camp has enough shade trees and throughout the camp there are large open areas so that the animals can be seen easily. The Zambezi rounds off this camp unbelievably. The chief warden’s office is about 2 km from the camp.
    There are a total of 36 camp sites available for campers at Nyamepi. There are river front and non river front areas. Some of the areas are large and can accommodate up to 3 “off road” caravans at one site Rather confirm this on booking.
    Here are the “stand numbers” that I identified as being on the banks of the Zambezi. All have an unbelievable river view with shade trees and a braai.
    Zambezi Bank camp areas:- 1; 2; 3; 5; 6; 9; 11; 16; 17; 20; 21; 23; 25 (Approximately $110 per day)
    Camp areas not on the river bank :- are all the numbers in between. There is also SB1; SB2; SB3 available and these are kept on “standby” if someone arrives without a booking. These areas are seen as “not so fantastic” by the Mana Office. It is definitely not so. These three areas are just as well placed as any other area in Nyamepi.

    POSTED 17/08/2012 at

    Mana Pools: New Ndungu 1&2
    We spent 3 nights and 4 days at New Ndungu 2 exclusive camp.
    New Ndungu 1 & 2 are 11 km from the communal camp (Nyamepi) and the Chief Warden’s office. Both these camps are surrounded by very thick bush and there is little space between your camp and a surprise, if a lion or an elephant should walk into the camp. According to Mana Pools staff these camps are not very popular because of the thickly bushed surroundings.
    The first impression on arrival was total satisfaction. It is sited well away from everything and private, on the bank of the Zambezi. You cannot ask for more. We were very excited. The “longdrop” was under shrubs. There was no shower and also no water that you could drink. But this was what was on offer and we also accepted this. But after we set up camp and began relaxing the following were noticed:
    1. Water collection out of the river needed a rope and bucket, because the bank was so high from the water.

    2. In the camp you bathed out of a bucket.

    3. The longdrop is in the bush and if you needed to go, someone had to stand guard in case a predator or elephant surprised you on the longdrop!

    4. At dusk the hyenas enter the camp early and stand just out of the lamp light and wait for any opportunity. With darkness you cannot see if something is standing in the bush watching you.

    5. The thick vegetation closely surrounding the camp, cultivates a scary feeling in you that you are definitely going to be “up close and personal” with an animal that will trample or eat you. This is while you are looking for any advantage to give yourself a good chance to escape. Ha, Ha coward…ha, ha yes!

    To us as campers, (and this is a personal experience); we did not enjoy New Ndungu 2. The camp is too densely bushed, which as a personal experience we found too dangerous.
    Make no mistake the camp is lovely, as are all the other camps, but it was just too bushy and isolated for our tastes.
    By no means am I saying that everyone reading this will feel the same about this camp.
    There may be readers that like the element of danger and uncertainty. But for our Mana Pools experience, this was not what we wanted to endure for 10 nights and 11 days.
    We thus asked to be moved to New BBC camp after 3 nights.
    I went to have a look at New Ndungu 1. The camp is exactly like New Ndungu 2, thickly bushed.
    The photos are of New Ndungu 2 camp as it is.

    POSTED 17/08/2012 at

    Mana Pools : New BBC
    We spent 3 nights at BBC exclusive camp.
    New BBC is 3-4 km from the communal camp (Nyamepi) and the Chief Warden’s office. The camp is between the private huts Hippo Lodge, Nyathi Lodge and the Chief Warden’s office.
    New BBC is really exclusive in the context that it is unbelievably attractive and very private with the nicest of river accessibility.
    New BBC is fantastic! On the banks of the Zambezi with convenient access to the river to scoop water. The longdrop was also luxurious in the sense that it was larger than any other at Mana Pools. Ha. Ha.
    We recommend this camp strongly. Large open areas around the camp. Lots of trees. Popular with all the animals and clear footpaths are visible to the river. We were visited every day by many elephants, impala, waterbuck, warthogs, buffalo, all on the way to drink or to walk through the river to an island. Crocodiles and hippos are plentiful in the river as well as on the banks.
    New BBC is really a paradise.
    At night hippos walked through the camp, the hyenas were already present in the early evenings. There were no insects and few mosquitoes along the river.
    We had a very nice stay here.
    At each exclusive camp you only get a longdrop. There is no drinking water. You bathe out of a bucket from the river, but it is nice. Exclusive comes to the fore here in all aspects.
    I repeat again, every person with a love for nature and the wild, must visit Mana Pools. It is a very special place. The nature, the wildlife, the atmosphere, the heavens above you, the river, the trees, oh just everything leaves you dumbfounded over how privileged you are. Just to be present and to experience causes you to become humbly quiet.
    We spent 3 nights and 4 days at New BBC and then moved to Nyamepi for the last leg of our visit to Mana Pools.
    The photos are of New BBC as it is.
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2012/08/19 at 12:21 PM.
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report
    OR from post 315.

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Stan Weakley For This Useful Post:

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Thanked: 47


    Thank you Stan for translating all of Windpomp's information, and of course a big thanks also goes to Windpomp as well for actually compiling it. Very useful info here.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Thanked: 154


    Thanks sooo much Stan and Windpomp - we are off to mana Pools via Wangwe on Wednesday!!!!!
    1999 Isuzu Trooper - The Truck
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  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Thanked: 417

    Default Mana Pools Report

    Thank You Windpomp for your original inputs and thank you Stan for the effort put in to translate the original works. I think a broader audiance will now enjoy the benefits of the translation.

    [SIGPIC]MikevR Be determined to live the unlived life within you.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    No fixed abode
    Thanked: 2


    Thanks Stan and Windpomp. Great effort in compiling this info.
    2006 Defender KE 300 TDi (aka Hari), previously 2003 TD5 90 (aka Steri) and 1994 TDi HiLine 200 TDi (aka Big Blue).
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  7. #6
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    Mar 2011
    Walker Bay
    Thanked: 1105


    Many thanks Stan and Windpomp! Excellent report!

    “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same." - Ernest Hemingway

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Cape Town
    Thanked: 1


    Well done Stan and Windpomp.. I wish I had read this before I left and before I booked.  324

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Thanked: 0


    Hi Stan

    Thank you for your effort in the translation of a lengthy detailed report on Mana Pools.

    I am now totally convinced that all readers of this site will from now on be able to make an educated decision when deciding where, when and how to plan a holiday in Zimbabwe that includes Mana Pools.

    I am personally sold on Mana Pools, the beauty, the animals, the bird life, the infra-structure, the danger, the vegatation. Everything is such a enormous gift to the visitor and a privelage to see and experience.

    I do not have the correct words that is effective enough to convince those readers that are not sure whether they should or should not visit Mana Pools, to actually do so. It is a MUST DO, MUST SEE,. MUST EXPERIENCE, MUST HOLIDAY. It is AWESOME...

    I know every visitor leaves Mana Pools and have gained something that is not found easily elsewhere.

    Thus Stan an enormous thank you for opening Mana Pools opportunity to everyone by translating it in English.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Thanked: 1

    Default Windpomp and Stan

    Guys, as the youngsters would say " you are legends".

    Many thanks.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Chantilly, North of Paris France
    Thanked: 1



    Mana Pools is definitely a fantastic place, must be visited when in Zim despite the awful first 30 km between tar and gate (spent - only - two nights there three weeks ago, elephants and buffalos walking through the campsites, baboons steeling my friend's toasts - LOL -, hyenas paying visits after diner, it is definitely a most amazing place...)..

    However, something unpleasant happened to me: As I drove out, the ranger at the gate asked to see my garbage..I had none, had burned biodegradables and left 3 beer tins in the toilet garbage can..

    Then, this guy began beeing very unpleasant, showed me a flyer saying that leaving non biodegradables (plastic bottles or tins) behing had to be fined with 100 US $, and called me a lyer when I told him that I was never been given a yellow bag at the place (I do not remember the name) where you get your permit and that I had never been informed about the rule..

    It was quite unpleasant, I proposed to give him US $ 20, he refused, but let me go through only after 20 minutes of very hard discussion...(i.A. asked me to drive back to Nyamepi in order t collect my three tins)..

    I still do not understand what he was looking for, I AM SURE THAT I HAD NO INFORMATION AND THAT THE WHOLE IS ONLY A TRAP FOR please be careful (heard for example about nothing similar in Hwange, where I spent 6 days)...


  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Gordons Bay as a base - travelling Africa
    Thanked: 110


    Thanks very much for your work, Stan

  13. #12
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    Aug 2009
    East London
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    POSTED 20/08/2012 at

    Mana Pools: Chitake 1,2 & 3

    Here, we did not stay at any of these exclusive camps. I did tackle the 108km bad road to see how things looked here and to take some photos.
    All visitors to Mana Pools must report to the Chief Warden's office, except the campers at these 3 camps. At the treehole check in point you turn right and 9km further you are at the turnoff to Chitake 1,2 & 3.

    I had to lick the treehole staff "blue" to please allow me "quickly" to drive to Chitake to have a look and to take one or two photos for many people wanting to visit Mana.
    Here it was proven again. Your privacy as a camper on your "campsite" is protected and inquisitive visitors are not allowed to intrude on your peace.
    Finally I was allowed through with the instruction that I must be back within an hour. This was the problem. There was at the time of my visit no sign board indicating Chitake Springs. Our GPS also had no satellite reception. We drove 29km past the faint turnoff.

    The road is seriously bad. We turned back and after a careful search we eventually found the turnoff. We drove in and it was beautiful.
    This camp has 3 areas laid out for campers. Chitake 1,2 & 3.

    You camp along the dry river bed. Chitake 1 is near the origin of the spring running in the river bed. Chitake 2 (which I did not find, because I was only granted one hour and had already been lost) is according to others also on the spring.

    Chitake 3 is away from the river bed and and you drive past it on the way to Chitake 1.

    The photos illustrate how it looks at the camps. My remark is just this:
    Here you are completely isolated. Nobody is allowed to come and disturb you. Two years ago a camper was "taken" by a lion. Naturally it was fatal.
    It is related by the rangers that Chitake is "rotten" with lions, leopards, hyenas and elephant. The camping areas are also reasonably bushy and the chances of getting "up close and very personal" with a wild animal that can eat you up is big and a reality.

    You can walk down to the river bed from Chitake 1 & 3. Chitake 1 is right on the dry river bed, but you still need to walk down to the dry river bed. I am not able to state how far Chitake 2 is from the dry river bed.

    Then in the photos I have placed a photo of a Baobab on the road. The faint turnoff to Chitake is long before you reach this tree, on the right. With our visit to Chitake, the campers that left that morning, left a branch in the road to help people to see the faint turnoff, we did not see it like this and drove around the branch and thus went past the turnoff.
    Both Chitake 1 & 3 are surrounded by thick bush. There is a high chance that you might be surprised by a lion or elephant walking into camp.

    Each camp had a "longdrop", with the usual braai construction. There are no showers and hot water or electricity.

    These camps are nice and wild. After dark I think these camps are severely dangerous and all campers must be very careful and prepared.

    Water can probably be dug for in the river bed, coming from the spring. There is no drinking water. These camps require you to take everything with and to be totally self sufficient.

    When I visited the two camps they were empty as the campers had left that morning.

    Remember about the tree holes( 32km from the tar road on the dirt road) you turn right to Chitake 1,2 &3. You drive 9km then on the right hand side you find a faint road that will take you to the camps.. Once you have turned offf it is easy to find them. At the tree holes you turn left, on entering the park, to the Mana Pools Chief Warden's office. (45km bad dirt road).
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report
    OR from post 315.

  14. #13
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    Oct 2006
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    If you drive past the baobab in the middle of the road, you missed the track to Chitake Springs.

  15. #14
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    Sep 2012
    Ljubljana, Slovenia
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    Quote Originally Posted by eric60260 View Post
    I still do not understand what he was looking for, I AM SURE THAT I HAD NO INFORMATION AND THAT THE WHOLE IS ONLY A TRAP FOR please be careful (heard for example about nothing similar in Hwange, where I spent 6 days)...
    Hi Eric,

    I don't think he was trying to perform a scam on you. Indeed there is "Carry In Carry Out" policy being introduced in Mana Pools recently. See here:


    When we were there in May, we've been given large yellow rubbish bag with instructions when checking in at Marongora, but were never inspected on our way out of the park. Your experiences were obviously jut the opposite (no one mentioned anything about it on your way in, but was checked on your way out), but the guy certainly didn't want to milk some money out of you, he was just doing his duties (maybe a bit to eagerly, but only you can be the judge of that).

    After all, this is a very sensible and much needed initiative, I hope it will be soon introduced to other NPs as well.

    24 hours in a day.... 24 beer in a case.... Coincidence?
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  16. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Chantilly, North of Paris France
    Thanked: 1


    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post
    Hi Eric,

    I don't think he was trying to perform a scam on you. Indeed there is "Carry In Carry Out" policy being introduced in Mana Pools recently. See here:


    When we were there in May, we've been given large yellow rubbish bag with instructions when checking in at Marongora, but were never inspected on our way out of the park. Your experiences were obviously jut the opposite (no one mentioned anything about it on your way in, but was checked on your way out), but the guy certainly didn't want to milk some money out of you, he was just doing his duties (maybe a bit to eagerly, but only you can be the judge of that).

    After all, this is a very sensible and much needed initiative, I hope it will be soon introduced to other NPs as well.


    Thanks for your reply, I share anyway the point of wiew: "do not take anything but pictures, do not leave anything but footprints", which I learned in Australia years ago. This is the reason why I had burned everything possible in Mana, and had looked for a suitable disposal for my three beer cans (if I had not found a dustbin, I certainly would have taken them with me)...

    Apart from the fact that I was never given one of these yellow bags, what I did not appreciate was the behaviour of the ranger, who told me i was lying in a quite agressive way. I accept beeing told I make mistakes, but lying means that you tell something wrong on purpose AND IN ORDER TO CHEAT. I would even have paid the $ 100 if necessary, but once again, I cannot accept this kind of behaviour (only time in Zim when I had to complain, all other people were more than friendly, even at road blocks)..


  17. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    east london
    Thanked: 67


    Stan thank-you for translating this report as well as windpomp excellant feedback on Manna pools-as an ex-ZIM my afrikaans is not so good so Stans hard work has allowed me to enjoy this report.Just want to high-light the policy at Manna regarding your rubbish-as mentioned in my last years report this issue needs more attention from the parks board members-most responsable campers do take away their rubbish-but their will always be the exception-in our case it was a large group of Zimbos from Harare who left their rubbish of which the parks tractor came and fetched with no complaints leaving one with the impression that you would be allowed to leave your rubbish-and one last point is that some of the so called responsable campers would throw their rubbish bags on the side of the road once they left the national park area.As Manna pools gets busier and more visited this problem will only get bigger and i believe that the parks management will have to come up with a solution.In the meantime lets make sure us South African campers leave nothing behind but foot-prints!

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Thanked: 21


    well done, it covers many of the quistions people normally have on mana pools.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Thanked: 5


    Great info for people who've never been, Windpomp. And I agree with you - you haven't experienced the wonder of Africa if you haven't been to Mana proper! Few other game reserves or national parks compare, and I've been to a few!

    thanks for translating, Stan...
    2008 Nissan Pathfinder 4.0L 4x4 A/T (sold 2019/03)
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  20. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Cape Town
    Thanked: 0

    Thumbs up Mana, here we come.

    Thanks Windpomp and Stan Weakley - your info is invaluable.
    We - 2 M/v's, are leaving from Cape Town tomorrow, travelling via Upington, Gaborone, Francistown, Plumtree, Bulawayo and ending at Mana pools in a few days time...Swambo and self, have been wanting to go to Mana for years!

    Thanks again to the Forum for all the input.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Thanked: 656


    Thanx guys, yes great for guys who have never been but also good as a reminder for those of us that have been.

    Perhaps someone who has been to Chitake in the past few months could submit a hand drawn plan of Chitake, its campsites (including the operators site) and roads around the spring.

    One question I am booked into Gwaya excl campsite next year July. I see that it is not on your list, can anyone help with information?

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