Zimbabwe National Park
After Lake Kariba, the Zambezi ambles through an ancient flood plain on its way to the Indian Ocean. It is this Zambezi, so different from the one that challenges the white water rafters at Victoria Falls, that is home to one of Zimbabwe's two world heritage sites, the Mana Pools National Park. Here the river has left behind the remains of old channels, forming small seasonal pools scattered over 2000 square kilometers.
During the dry months of September and October, the Park attracts a staggering profusion of big game, including buffalo, kudu, eland, zebra and waterbuck. On the Acacia Albida which dominate both banks of the river, the browse line of the elephants is clearly visible. When the acacias bear fruit, it's even possible to catch an elephant standing on its hind legs, reaching with its trunk high into the branches. The protein rich pods are highly prized by aficionados of the elephantine menu.
Birdlife is also incredibly varied: plovers, nyasa lovebird, and several varieties of eagle swoop and flutter over the riverside woodlands.
But one species makes Mana Pools particularly special. This is one of the few places left on earth where the black rhino, hounded to the brink of extinction elsewhere, can still be found. The survival of the black rhino is attracting worldwide publicity, yet it is but a small part of the far greater question of how mankind is going to reconcile his own needs with those of the myriad species who now depend on his good will. Fortunately, Zimbabwe is home to many experts on African wildlife who are deeply committed to ensuring that it will survive to enrich the lives of future generations.
For an experience of Africa bereft of the excesses of twentieth century, it is hard to beat a canoeing safari along the Zambezi. Several operators conduct these trips under the supervision of highly experienced guides, enabling the visitor to get closer to the spirit of primeval Africa than could ever be possible in a world governed by the internal combustion engine. Despite the quiet remoteness the food served by campfires after dark is as fine as in many a city restaurant.
Special thanks to the Zimbabwe Ministry of Enviornment and Tourism for providing this information.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication