Mana Pools Adventure Trail: The 2017 Route Map

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In preparation for our upcoming Mana pools Adventure trail we met with the Mwinilunga Team to plot the route and work out logistics around what they’re referring to as an 8 night “Best of Mana” experience.

Jono, Andrew and professional Zimbabwe Field Guide Kevin Louw evaluated various options before settling on a route which would not only provide guests with the best possible encounters on foot, but ensure that they were exposed to some of the most raw and wild regions on offer in Mana Pools.

Raw, wild and remote are three phrases which are synonymous with Chitake Springs where we will be spending the first three nights of our Adventure Trail. For the elite few who’ve heard of Chitake, let alone been, it’s undoubtedly an experience that you can’t find anywhere else. The animals are wild, the camp remote with only one access road leading in to camp. All safaris here are conducted by foot as we explore the Chitake drainage system twice a day.

Apart from the small Chitake water source, there’s no other available water for many kilometers surrounding the area. This means every single animal in need of water will drink from Chitake Springs. The water runs along a small but deep sandy drainage for just over 1 kilometer before vanishing into the sand. Our camp will be located right next to the stream along the banks under some well-shaded trees. From here we will conduct short walks in the area in search of lion, elephant, buffalo, wild dogs and much more.

Chitake is not the kind of place where you burn out the shutter of your camera. It’s about the experience of seeing Africa in a way you’ve never thought possible – wild to the maximum & fully immersed in nature. You can read up more about Chitake Springs here.

Chitake Springs

It is no coincidence that we will be in Chitake Springs over full moon and I for one cannot wait to kill the camp lights and take on the role of a wildlife voyeur, soaking up what wild Africa is truly about.

chitake springs, marlon du toit

chitake springs, marlon du toit
chitake springs, mana pools, marlon du toit

On the morning of day four, after our usual morning activity at Chitake Springs, we will hop on board a vehicle and head back North towards the airstrip where our journey began. Leaving heavy and unnecessary camera equipment and clothing behind, we will pack the essentials (such as sleeping bags, groundsheets, a wide angle and mid range telephoto lens) and head south to a remote pan known as “Skull Pan”.

The name alone stirs my excitement levels!

Again, making the most of the light provided by the waning full moon, this promises to be an incredible experience.

The safety of a tent however is not an option and guests will take turns to stoke the fire and keep a watch deep into the African night.

Afternoon Walk to Skull Pan

Heading north from Skull pan on the morning of day five we will follow fresh tracks left by wildlife visiting the pan during the night and head north, making our way towards a pre-set lunch setup at the eastern edge of Long Pool. here we will stock up on water, shed any unnecessary items and retrieve long lenses which may prove to be handy as we continue our way west along the Zambezi floodplain and magical forests for which Mana pools is so well known.

Skull Pan to Zambezi River and Remote Beach

mana pools, zimbabwe, marlon du toit

marlon du toit, photo safari, wild eye, mana pools

The evenings rest will be on a remote sandy beach on the banks of the Mighty Zambezi river where sundowners will be enjoyed in the company of hippos, elephants and a roaring fire. Again, guests will need to take it in turns to sit around the fire and keep watch for any unwanted visitors. I have sat watch around fires n the middle of the african bush many times and i can assure you, this is an incredible time of quiet and personal reflection and is not the frightening experience that some may think it is.

Remote Beach to Mwinilunga Camp

Our final morning on the move sees us walk into the luxurious Mwinilunga Camp where Tess, Dave, Roogs and the team would have prepared a hearty breakfast fit for a group who have just covered 40km of Africa’s most pristine wilderness regions on foot.

mana pools, marlon du toit

Mwinilunga Camp

It’s all about priorities so, after downloading images and setting camera gear up to charge, guests will enjoy what I predict will be one of the most memorable hot showers of their lives!

Fresh and well rested we will spend the afternoon and next 3 nights walking the floodplains in search of the definitive moments and scenes for which Mana pools is so well known.

marlon du toit, canon, canon 400 f4 DO, lens review, wild eye

marlon du toit, canon, canon 400 f4 DO, lens review, wild eye

mana pools, zimbabwe, marlon du toit

marlon du toit, mana pools, wild eye, africa, photo safari

Is this a photographic safari? Yes

Is this more than just a photographic safari? Oh hell yes.

This promises to be an incredible adventure through what is fast becoming one of Zimbabwe’s most attractive wildlife destinations. If you were ever to do just one itinerary into mana pools, this would have to be it.

Join us for the Mana Pools Adventure Trail

Join us for this incredible 8 night adventure and experience The Best Of Mana Pools which includes return internal flights from Harare

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About the Author

Andrew Beck

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Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.

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