Life in Mana Pools is governed by the ebb and flow of the seasons. During the rainy season, the floodplain sparkles green with lush woodlands, seasonal pools and a full Zambezi River. Once the rains leave, only the Zambezi River, a few tributaries and four enduring pools that form in the meandering Lower Zambezi Valley offer water to the thirsty wildlife. Our camps are closed during the rainy season. We set up camp in mid-April, and welcome guests from May to November. Here are 5 good reasons why you should book an early season safari with us in May and June:
Witness green abundance and the season change…
By the beginning of May, the rains have ended and the bush has truly come to life. A pallet of greens paints the valley floor, contrasting well with the game and bird life. Game is healthy and strong. The mighty Zambezi River itself will be starting to rise with the local rains draining into it, bringing new life and nutrients to all that call the Zambezi their home.
The lush green undergrowth of the floodplain is quickly devoured by the impala, waterbuck, kudu, eland and elephant and by the end of June, Mana Pools is once more turning brown.
2. Waterholes, water lillies and crocodiles…
In May the inland pools and waterholes are still full and resplendent with green and white waterlilies. However the animals know that danger could lurk below these green carpets. The crocodiles that live in the Zambezi Valley are Nile crocodiles – prehistoric monsters that can grow up to 5 meters long. During the wet season, the crocodiles tend to move out of the river and into the many pools, pans and streams and wait for their next victim.
3. Great weather…
The weather is ideal, as the temperatures ease off to around 28’C per day, and around 12’C during the evening – warmers jackets are advised for morning and evening game drives. There is no humidity and little wind, making walking and canoeing very enjoyable.
4. Denning time for the wild dogs…
The wild dog packs which occupy the floodplain area have shown the previously unrecorded behaviour of repeatedly using the same den sites year after year. This has been exhibited by 4 alpha females – starting with Tait and then her daughters, and now her granddaughter Violet. This behaviour has not been observed in other wild dog populations.
There are a certain set of circumstances which favours this behaviour affected by the Zambezi river and the albida woodlands. The dens are generally located 3- 7km in a straight line from the Zambezi River, and are normally on sandy soil which is favoured by the aardvark who originally digs the den sites for her own litter. The dens sites are normally situated on the fringe of the sandy soil/Jesse bush area and the surrounding mopane woodland. This provides an open area of good visibility and also thick cover close by in which to hide if need be.
The denning season lasts for the first 3 months of the new puppies’ life, who are generally born in May and June. Many guests have had the pleasure of watching the alpha female den, and then seeing the first few steps of the new puppies out of their den at this time of year.
5. Over 150 different species of birds..
In 2019, one of our guides Jim Mackie counted 156 different bird species around our camps just in May and June. Here is a sample of the many feathered sights you could see when you book an early season safari:
- Excellent Raptors with Martial Eagle attacking guineafowl and Monitor lizards.
- African Hawk Eagle attacking Egyptian Goose.
- Ayre’s Hawk Eagle juvenile and adults in the area.This is a rare eagle for Southern Africa.
- Excellent sightings of Vultures. The best one being of a Leucistic Lappet Faced Vulture.
- Bat Hawks seen fairly regularly hunting along the Zambezi River at twighlight.
- Green Malkoha – a rare bird especially for this area, observed by Little Vundu
- Pels Fishing Owl observed in the area of Little Vundu camp .
- Collored Palm Thrushes also observed fairly often.
- Eastern Nicator also seen and often seen in the camps.