The arrival of spring is a welcomed time in Mana Pools National Park – for renewal, for transformation as well as an invitation for walking safaris. As winter mists and temperatures lift, curiosity awakens and the need for exploration rises. The landscapes of Africa warm with temptation, to rise with the sun and immerse in the wild.
Nature constantly adapts and changes throughout the year, transforming with the weather and temperatures of the season. Walking safaris with Mana Pools Safari Lodge are encouraged year round, except for when the grass is too high and the bush too thick to clearly see what’s ahead. This is just after the rainy season, when the flora is celebrating the recent quenching of thirst.
Most plants and trees flourish with the rains, waiting patiently through the dry season for clouds to break in respite. During the drier months, they pass nutrients and water to each other beneath the earth, surviving the heat and parched soil. Trees have an intricate communication system, depending on a complicated web of relationships, networks and alliances in order to survive. This process has also been referred to as the “wood wide web”, helping each other out beneath the surface of the soil, using a network of soil fungi. It is this fungi which connects one tree root system to another, enabling messages to be exchanged. A tree-mendous feat of nature!
One should definitely put aside time during their stay in Mana to simply sit and observe this cathedral of wooden giants, absorbing their presence.
Mana Pools is home to a magical forest of Albida trees. During your walking safari, take a moment beneath their canopy, watching the light disperse between the branches and scatter upon the land below. One should definitely put aside time during their stay in Mana to simply sit and observe this cathedral of wooden giants, absorbing their presence. Their role in the park is integral to many species survival, otherwise known as the Winterthorn, producing leaves during the winter season. This is an important food source for wildlife – as well as their apple-ringed pods being a favourite snack for elephants.
Seasonal change in the bush brings with it fresh aromas of different plants flowering – especially on the cusp of spring. Being on foot allows an intimate experience of the bursts of colour and smells from surrounding trees and plants, your guide teaching you how to read the season with your senses. The bush becomes truly aromatic, the air fragrant with the scent of the Sausage tree flowers, Mahogany tree flowers and the Wooly Caper bush flowers – to name but a few. The temperature is pleasant, allowing for long walks through the park, taking time to explore its various landscapes, as well as creatures big and small.
Parts of the Zambezi River hold a fascinating feat of nature as the seasons turn, where a migrant species of bird returns to nest. This time of year welcomes back the Carmine bee-eater, explosions of blue and pink descending upon the brown river banks, digging holes into its mud to lay their eggs. Being on foot allows you to approach the nests quietly, sitting down near the nests, witnessing the birds fly in and out with morsels of food, fanning their tails against the bank as they deliver to their young. This is a safari spectacle – one which remains in memory far beyond the experience.
At the first signs of spring, the Mana Pools Safari Lodge guides put on their walking shoes, ready to explore the wilderness on foot as the bush opens up once again. With a spring in their step, they lead you out into the wild, armed with curiosity and a safety rifle, ready to read the signs of nature; the stories left by creatures of the night as well as the change of season, welcoming transformation and new growth.