AS a result of feedback received by Wild Zambezi from visitors who have enjoyed camping in Mana Pools National Park, here are some important pointers to remember if you are planning a stay there.
Prior booking is a must
It is essential to pre-book accommodation and camping with ZimParks prior to your trip.
Check in at Marongora as well as Mana HQ
All visitors to Mana Pools National Park must check in and obtain an entry permit (no charge) at the Parks Zambezi Valley HQ at Marongora at the top of the Zambezi escarpment, before you descend the hills and turn in at the first entry gate. If you do not have this permit, the gate officers will make you go back, up the hill to Marongora to collect one.
Once you arrive at the Zambezi River in Mana, you must also check in at the Parks HQ at Nyamepi to show your accommodation booking form and pay your conservation/vehicle entry fees. You will not be allowed out of the park exit gate if you cannot show proof that you have paid these.
There are four ablution blocks in the Nyamepi Campsite with flush toilets, basins and shower facilities. They are basic, but have received a welcome upgrade recently, with new tiling and better plumbing. Hot water is provided via wood-burning boilers. Be sure to bring all your own toiletries, including toilet paper.
Note that the public exclusive campsites elsewhere in the park do not have ablution blocks or running water. The only facility provided at each site is a very basic “long-drop” toilet with a thatched surround for privacy.
Campers at these sites need to be completely self-contained and able to provide their own water and ablution facilities. A spadeful or two of cold campfire ash sprinkled regularly into the “long-drop” toilet serves to reduce odours and help sanitise it.
There are no fences!
In Mana Pools, there are no fences around any of the camping areas. Potentially dangerous wild animals can wander through at any time of the day or night. They may look tame, but they are not. Be vigilant at all times, especially after dark, and carry a torch with a strong beam to shine all around before moving.
Unless you are rigorously cautious about safety, it is inadvisable to camp in Mana Pools with very young children. There are five park lodges available for hire. These are a safer option. If you are camping with children under the age of 12, keep them well within the confines of your campsite and never let them move away alone (day or night).
Unguided walking is permitted, but only with a permit from the office and only if you are wilderness-savvy. Mana Pools is one of Africa’s great wilderness Parks. Visitors are permitted to walk unguided on the “floodplain” area near the Zambezi River, as long as you pay for a permit to do so from the office at Nyamepi.
However, if you are not experienced in the African wilderness, do not attempt to do this. Rather hire the services of an armed ranger from the National Parks office at Nyamepi, who will take your group out to enjoy this privilege.
Firewood is a scarce resource
In Mana Pools, you are not permitted to collect your own firewood. This must be purchased by the bundle at the Nyamepi Parks HQ. Keep your campfire to a minimum size in order to preserve a fast-dwindling resource.