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Difficult to compare: Mana Pools/Zambezi vs. Namibia?

Difficult to compare: Mana Pools/Zambezi vs. Namibia?

Oct 10th, 2006, 08:30 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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Difficult to compare: Mana Pools/Zambezi vs. Namibia?

We are finally getting to down to seriously planning a trip for late May 07. My husband and I have already decided on the usual Kruger/CPT/Winelands, but we can't seem to agree on how to spend the other 5 days or so.
I am pushing for a canoe trip in Mana Pools, as I would like to do something active and I like canoeing. He is more drawn to Sousselvei and Namibia.
This will be my second trip to Africa and his first (but we are already talking about our next, next trip ).

Has anyone done both Mana Pools and Namibia? They are so different, its difficult to decide.
cruisinred is offline  
Oct 10th, 2006, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
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To be very honest I have only seen Sossusvlei, but have travelled quite a bit in Zimbabwe and I think Mana Pools is definitely worth a visit. Do Sossusvlei on the next trip and spend more time visiting the rest of Namibia, it is a fascinating country..
and there is a lot more to see than just Sossusvlei..Good luck with your choice...
Arbizulu is offline  
Oct 10th, 2006, 04:18 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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I can't make a comparison as I've never been to Mana Pools, however, I did a similar trip to yours (Kruger/CPT/some winelands) and also did a 4-day Etosha trip. Yes, it was very quick, and there is more to see in Namibia that we missed. However, I was really drawn to Etosha and really only had time for it. Etosha was great--it was just different enough from Kruger, which is what I'd hoped.

I'm sure Mana Pools would also be a great choice, too. I don't envy having to make the choice--but at least you're going! (That makes me envious!)
Gritty is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 12:29 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Hi, got back late last night from a most amazing trip to Zambia, staying, for a good part of the trip, on the Lower Zambezi across from Mana Pools.
(We also spent almost a week at the Lower Luangwa National Park, at the Luangwa River Lodge, also a most wonderful experience, but quite different than the Lower Zambezi).

We wanted to be around water, canoe, and I wanted to fish for tigerfish, so, of course that left out Namibia.

Also, I was concerned about traveling to Zimbabwe, reading much over recent years about it's despotic ruler. Much, sadly, according to people that worked in the camps we visited, who had lived and worked in Zimbabwe, is true.

Since we also wanted to do game drives and walking, we decided that a multi-day canoe safari would take too much time away from other activities and would deprive us of our best chances to encounter some of the animals we wanted to see. Yes, we wanted it all!

I will write a more thorough report later, but, for now, I could not recommend more highly staying at Old Mondoro Bush Camp and Chiawa, traveling to Old Mondoro by canoe on a day trip down a channel paralleling the main river.

When I started planning our trip, I knew nothing about where to go in Africa except that we wanted to be near water (and that was even before we had experienced the hypnotizing, oddly soothing sounds of hippos "talking" and watching sunsets from the river). I wanted to fly fish for tigerfish. We didn't want to be in crowds, either at camp, or on drives and we wanted a bit of luxury mixed in with "roughing it."

Oh yes, we wanted to see lots of critters close up and personal. Well, we got everything we asked for and so much more. Way more,includng a too-close-for-comfort, soggy encounter Ruth had with a hippo. More about that later.

So, thanks to Google, we eliminated lots of the almost endless safari possibilities. And, thanks to Fodor's forum site, we ultimately found our way to Rocco and Zambia.

He's a huge fan of Zambia, and has traveled there extensively (a must for any travel agent you deal with for any of the areas you wish to visit). We now see why. When we first started looking into possibilities through these forums, Rocco's postings were most helpful in the sorting process. Yes, we also contacted many agencies, and few seemed to "get it" with respect to what we were looking for. They seemed to be trying to shoehorn us into their itineraries.

Rocco did "get it." He has since transformed his love for Africa, esp. Zambia, into a travel specialist agency, Destiny Africa.

Everything from logistics to the game viewing, to the people we met, to the food, turned out wonderfully and just as Rocco had promised. Any time I had anxieties about some aspect of the trip and planning process (and I had plenty given that this was our first trip to Africa), Rocco found the answer to alleviate our concerns.

Didn't mean to turn this into a tribute to Rocco, but if you are considering Mana Pools because of its connection to the Lower Zambezi, I urge you to also look at Zambia and have Rocco take a look with you.


P. S. And, yes, I will definitely want to travel to Namibia in the future, but it would be in combination with a return to Zambia.
steeliejim is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 12:41 AM
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Hi! Glad you had a fantastic trip and cant wait for the trip report and pics.

Btw, did any of the actual Zimbabwean ppl at the camps hv much to say about travelling around Zimbabwe and the camps and the game viewing at the moment? I am strongly thinking about going there in 2008. Thanks.

Oct 11th, 2006, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 352
Hi Hari,

The people we talked to agreed that Zimbabwe is a beautiful country, and that the parks were reasonably safe. Most of the criticism and reasons for leaving centered around the high rate of inflation (over 1000 percent now) and the precipitous drop off in tourism. Theres's a new thread just popped up on a recent trip to Zimbabwe by vickiw16, and I'll be anxious to hear of her (?) experiences since it sounds like she had a great time.

We spent the night in Lusaka before leaving for London and it looks like a bustling city. We went to a market with various crafts in a poorer part of town and felt quite safe. Zsmbia is a poor country, no question, but it has a stable, democratic government, the official language is English (by the choice of the first government after gaining independence (perhaps that makes it not exotic enough for some people), and the people are some of the friendliest and most wonderfulwe have met in our travels.

Here's an excerpt about Zimababwe's current state of affairs I got from the internet. It squates with what we were told and what I've read in the news. Of course it's up to each individual to decide what factors are important in choosing a destination, and I supposte there are some real bargains in Zimbabwe. For me, though, supporting its corrupt, oppressive government,is a problem.

"In March 2002, Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. That month Mugabe was reelected president for another six years in a blatantly rigged election whose results were enforced by the president's militia. In 2003, inflation hit 300%, the country faced severe food shortages, and the farming system had been destroyed. In 2004, the IMF estimated that the country had grown one-third poorer in the last five years.

Parliamentary elections in March 2005 were judged by international monitors to be egregiously flawed. In April, Zimbabwe was reelected to the UN Commission on Human Rights, outraging numerous countries and human rights groups. In mid-2005, Zimbabwe demolished its urban slums and shantytowns, leaving 700,000 people homeless in an operation called “Drive Out Trash.” In 2006, the government launched “Operation Roundup,” which drove 10,000 homeless people out of the capital.

Since 2000, Zimbabwe has experienced precipitous hyperinflation. By May 2006, inflation had surpassed 1,000%, by far the world's highest.

Unemployment was estimated at 70% to 80%. According to the World Health Organization, Zimbabwe now has the world's lowest life expectancy."


steeliejim is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 07:24 AM
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There have been a number of posts on here regarding the situation in Zimbabwe. Many people on this board who have been there or are planning trips there have the belief that they are supporting the preservation of wildlife and not the Mugabe regime. It is not a matter of bargin shopping at all, as you refer to it, when people choose Zimbabwe. In fact, you can find many posts on here from Rocco promoting safaris in Zim.

cruisinred is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 07:42 AM
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Thanks Jim for all the details.

Like Cruisinred mentioned, i intend visiting Zim......the pros and cons were discussed at length a couple of months ago. Besides, there hv been some great articles in Africa Geographic magazine suggesting that visitors need to continue their support.

My question to you was out of curiosity of what the actual ppl from that part of the world thought about their country.

Oct 11th, 2006, 08:00 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 352
Yes, I know it's a trade-off, tougher for some than others, realizing anything one spends in a country will directly support the people who need it most, versus knowing a good portion of it will also go to the regime.

I got the impression that for most of the people now working in Zambia who had lived in Zimbabwe, the biggest consideration was financial, which makes sense if you are the ones subject to the terrible inflation and high unemployment. Those are factors more relevant to residents than visitors, but, let's be honest, those factors do, in some ways can benefit the tourist.

All I can say is that Zambia was amazing, and, while we intend to explore other places in Africa, we have left big pieces of our hearts in Zambia and we WILL be returning.

steeliejim is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 11:43 AM
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I went to Zim last year, did the canoe trip (with Bushlife safaris), and am going back next year for 15 days in Zim ( Vic Falls, Mana Pools, and Hwange). I will be travelling alone (single female)and have no reservations, while the economy is in horrendous shape, the people are quite lovely, and appreciative of the tourism. Yes it is true that the Mugabe regime receives some of the revenues, but at least a tiny portion of that is to feed the starving, turn on the electricity/ water etc. The vast majority of the funds go to keeping the safari operator in business on a very small operating margin, which in turn does protect the animals from the poaching that has just taken place of ele's in Chizarira yesterday (50+ ele's killed for ivory). I will continue to go to this beautiful country, support its people thru these tough times, and protest Mugabe in whatever other way I can.
suzic is offline  
Oct 11th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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PLEASE share any and all details about your canoe safari! There have been few if any reports on the Mana Pools canoeing experience.

Just a few questions to get you started

- How did you transfer to Mana Pools?
- How many were in your canoe group?
- How were the tents and meals?
- Were you able to see much wildlife from the river?

cruisinred is offline  
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