Manapools.com launches 4×4 Safari Rentals

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Manapools.com is pleased to announce the launch of our new Equipped Vehicle Rental joint venture with Zimbabwe Car Hire. Backed by Zimbabwe Car Hire’s fleet of Toyota Prado and Pajero vehicles and Manapools.com’s equipment and know-how. This is a first for Zimbabwe that allows you to fly into Harare, collect a fully equipped vehicle and self-drive Mana Pools, Kariba, Kariba Ferry, Victoria Falls, Hwange, Matopos and Gonarezhou. With competitive rates and top-spec equipment, your next Zim Self-Drive Safari is safe in our hands. Manapools.com can also help with Zimparks Bookings, catering and Harare Accommodation at Sunbird Guest House. Now is the time to contact us for a quote.

Walking in the Zambezi Valley barefoot in the rainy season

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Just got back from 4 glorious days in the valley between Christmas and new year at RIA camp just upstream from Chirundu. We had 92mm of rain the day we arrived and the seconf half of our party arriving the next day had to leave their car at Jecha point and get ferried to Rifa by Nick and Iona  who run Jecha Point. This was all arranged in typical Zim fashion at short notice and without any hastle . Solid bunch of people those Jecha guys.

Many people shy away from the valley in the rainy season and I must admit we didn’t see much game as it had dispersed inland with all the rain. As always, though, the Valley surprised us and the lack of game made it safer for our party which included the young at heart as well as the just plain young to dispense with shoes and wallow in glorious mud. The morning after the big rains found the RIFA hot springs flooded with brown water at just a safe enough depth to exclude crocs. This gave us 100m of supertube and hours of fun were had running upstream and then drifting down in various creative ways.

We did hear the lions every night and the kids planted their bare footprints over lion spoor that had been left only a few hours before. A solitary Hyena snuck into camp in the dead of night and Hooped once loudly before sneaking off again. The lack of big game made us look carefully at the flowers and small things. We saw many beautiful bush plants and flowers  tat are dry sticks in August. We located a black Arum lily plant and observed Mopane bees in their hives. The macro lens came out for the velvet mites but the pic of a tiny pipisrelle bat on a mopane leaf was captured best by the cellphone camera!

All it all, much fun was had in the mud for the team who’s ages spanned 7 to 70. Thanks Zambezi, you did it again, walking in the valley always throws up surpises

 

Makuti Zimpaks accommodation

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Zimparks have opened their 2 Makuti hunting camps for use by the general public outside of the winter hunting season. These camps are permanent tented sites situated 2-3km of the Great North Road near the Kariba/Chirundu turnoff. Each tent sleeps 2 and rents for usd100 per night. The Rate includes a chef but not food, which you have to book yourself. A great option for those who leave Harare late and are scared of missing the Marongora check-in time for Mana, just overnight at Makuti in the escarpment bush and drive through in the morning. It is advised that you book ahead through Zimparks reservations and remember these sites are not available in hunting season (winter).

What do I need to take to Mana Pools?

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What do I need to bring? This is a common question I get asked by people about to visit Mana for the first time. Mana is off the beaten track and even those with experience in self-driving the well-beaten tracks of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia will find that Mana is more remote and requires more planning ahead, there is no shop or garage down the road. But hey, that’s one of the things that makes Mana so special and a treat for those who are prepared to go the extra mile.

Our website contains some useful downloadable PDF checklists that can help you make sure you have everything you neeed:

Zimparks Facilites per site
Catering Shopping List
Equipment Rental List

Remember, the Zambezi Valley is a Malaria area and you will need to consult your doctor about prophylactics before your visit. We suggest you bring mosquito repellant as well as light, long-sleaved shirts and trousers with closed shoes and socks to keep mosquitoes at bay in the evening (mozzies love ankle flesh!).

The African sun is also often underestimated by visitors. From our ai-conditioned offices, we forget how burnt you can get from a day in the sun. Wide-brimmed hats and lots of suntan lotion are a must. I often find a light long-sleaved collared shirt of the type worn by test cricketers is very effective against the sun.

Other items to remember include fishing kit and bait, binoculars and camera kit. Hope this helps you ensure you have all bases covered.

A strategy for handling Police Roadblocks in Zimbabwe

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Police roadblocks are pretty common in Zimbabwe at the moment and can make road-tripping a time-consuming experience. It appears to me that some people suffer more than their fair share whilst others manage to dance through roadblocks most of the time without too much hastle. It got me thinking if some of this might not be related to different strategic approaches to ZRP roadblocks. I have never had much problems with them myself, so here are some strategies that I reckon may have helped me. They might be worth a try (if nothing else they are games you can play in your own mind):

Get in the right head space…. sounds a bit Zen but you are on holiday now, try see the journey as part of the holiday. Somehow the ZRP can sense if you are in a hurry or stressed. My rule is, as I cross Beitbridge, I switch to Africa time and try adjust my mindset accordingly. Best do it quickly because within 2km you will find your first roadblock.

Obey the laws….our website outlines the requirements in terms of paperwork and equipment, make sure you have everything and it is accessible. Observe and obey speed limits and the rules of the road.

Time your approach speed…. slow enough to be respectful, but fast enough to appear self-assured and preferably just fast enough to  be difficult to stop. The optimum approach speed is difficult to judge but about 40km/h is generally about right. Often you will be waved through because you are halfway through anyway!

When you do get stopped:

Own the conversation….most Southern African languages have a greeting ritual of question and response, you can use this to your advantage. Stop the car, turn down the radio, wind down the window and greet the policeman first with a cheery but respectfull “Good morning officer”. You have started the conversation politely and now the obligation is on them to respond to your greeting. When he/she does, ask another question, any question will do, I usually go with “Is this the right road to Cairo?”, this usually brings some humor to the situation and he will explain that you may be a little off track. Keep asking questions,  “how far is Karoi”, “what condition is the road?” “hows the rainy season been?” . Nine times out of ten the whole thing degenerates into a friendly conversation and they will wave you off with a smile – it would be rude to end it any other way.

If the worst comes to the worst and you do end up being asked for a bribe, try play dumb and ignore the hints and keep chatting around the issue until they realise that you have plenty of time to talk and the y will invariably wave you on your way eventally.

Mana Pools Zimparks Tarrifs

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Zimparks tariffs can be hard to work out remotely, we have compiled a summary of Zimparks tarifs to help you with estimating costs for your self-drive trip. Manapools.com are not travel agents and cannot book on your behalf, however, we can help chase up your enquiry in person and collect/courier permits for you. Please note that as of 1 Jan 2018, Zimparks has done away with the discount previously offered to SADCC residents and reverted to a 2-tier pricing model foreign vs Local residents.

How do I book Mana Pools campsites?

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All the public campsites at Mana Pools and Chitake Springs are booked through Zimparks central bookings office in Harare. The lodges and certain campsites book up over one year in advance for certain times of the year, so it is best to book as early as possible. The main Nyamepi campsite is seldom full though.

Zimparks central bookings office contact details are:
Tel: + 263 4 706077/8
Email: bookings@zimparks.co.zw
Booking clerks direct emails:
Christine Mhuriro: cmhuriro@zimparks.co.zw
Audrey Maponga: amaponga@zimparks.co.zw
Sekai Gonyora: sgonyora@zimparks.co.zw

At Manapools.com, we are not travel agents so cannot book on your behalf, but we are able to help facilitate the process for our clients by following up with Zimparks in Harare and collecting & couriering permits for you. Please contact us if you need help.