Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
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RUCKOMECHI CAMP - MANA POOLS
NATIONAL PARK, ZIMBABWE
On the middle reaches of the Zambezi River, a hundred kilometres below Lake Kariba is the Mana Pools National Park situated in the heart of the Zambezi Valley. Ruckomechi Camp lies on the banks of the Zambezi, shaded by a large grove of acacia and mahogany trees and with a superb view of the mountains of Africa's Great Rift Valley across the river in Zambia.
Ruckomechi Camp is operated by Wilderness Safaris.
For images of Ruckomechi, click Ruckomechi
Ruckomechi Camp accommodates guests in nine spacious en-suite tented units, including a honeymoon suite, all of which overlook the Zambezi River. Each tent has both indoor and outdoor showers, and the camp boasts a favourite amongst guests: its outdoor 'bath-with-a-view' in a secluded, scenic spot. The central dining, bar, library and lounge areas face the escarpment and are connected to the rest of the camp by low-level walkways that minimise our environmental impact. There is a separate deck with infinity pool for swimming and sun bathing, and an inviting, cushion-strewn star gazing deck.
Following on from Wilderness Safaris' Zambian camps, Ruckomechi Camp has aimed to be as environmentally friendly as possible - hot water and lighting for each unit is provided by solar power.
Ruckomechi offers diverse
game activities, including game drives in 4x4 vehicles, canoe trips,
boating and fishing. Daily game walks are available with an armed guide.
Mid-morning game viewing trips by boat to the islands are a highlight.
A 3-night canoe trip on the Zambezi River, The
Mana Canoe & Walking Trail, is also available along the
Mana Pools shoreline starting at Ruckomechi Camp and ending at Chikwenya
The camp vegetation is dominated by broad canopied albida trees, much loved by elephants for their rich nutritious pods; these animals often join visitors in camp for a light meal!
The area is renowned for large numbers of elephant, buffalo, hippo and eland, especially in the winter when they concentrate along the river. Predators such as lion, leopard and wild dog are all found in the area. Birdlife is superb, particularly for both mopane woodland and riverine species with numerous local specials like Collared Palm-Thrush, Racket-tailed Roller, Purple-banded Sunbird and Black-throated Wattle-Eyes.
Mana Pools National Park lies at the heart of the Zambezi Valley, where the Zambezi River meanders for 300km to the Mozambican border. It is a remote, beautiful place with spectacular views of the broad flowing river, floodplains, the tree canopy and the mountains of the Rift Valley escarpment over the border in Zambia.
This stretch of the Zambezi River is famous for its four main pools (after which the Park is named - 'mana' means 'four' in Shona) - Main, Chine, Long and Chisambuk - which are remnants of channels of the river which stopped flowing years ago. These and smaller seasonal pools dotted further inland hold water all year round, drawing all manner of wildlife and waterfowl during the dry season. The plentiful ana trees that characterise the floodplain shed their protein-rich pods during this time too, providing vital sustenance for many species, particularly elephant.
Wildlife viewing is therefore excellent, with large concentrations of buffalo and elephant to be found along the river's edges, while predators such as lion, wild dog, leopard and cheetah are often sighted. Greater kudu, Burchell's zebra, impala, warthog and common waterbuck can be seen on the surrounding plains and the grunting of hippo can be heard all day.
Mana Pools offers fantastic birding, with the river and seasonal pans attracting large numbers of water birds and excellent mix of species in the riverine vegetation and mopane woodlands. Local specials include Three-banded Courser, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Arnott's Chat, Green-capped Eremomela, African Golden Oriole, Lilian's Lovebird, Böhm's Spinetail and Meve's Starling. Unusual waterbirds include Rufous-bellied Heron, Long-toed Lapwing, Greater Painted Snipe, African Finfoot and colourful clouds of Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters. Even the sought-after Pel's Fishing-Owl is occasionally seen! Camp residents include woodpeckers, Eastern Nicator, Yellow-breasted Apalis and White-browed Robin-Chats with their beautiful dawn-and-dusk song.
Of all the countries we operate in across southern Africa, it is in Zimbabwe where conservation needs are perhaps clearest and most focused. The economic crisis in which the country has been held in recent years has in some areas resulted in unprecedented pressure on wildlife and natural resources, a situation that has been worsened by periodic drought conditions. Accordingly our conservation initiatives in Zimbabwe have been tailored to address the most pressing threats to the survival of wildlife with fruitful partnerships and encouraging successes very evident.
On either side of Mana Pools National Park lie hunting areas in which a number of lion hunting permits are sold annually. We are providing extensive logistic support and data toward a Lion Research project aimed at determining the long-term effects of sport hunting on lion populations, with specific reference to the Mana Pools population.
The study is led by Norman Monks, Warden of Mana Pools National Park. Since hunting concessions surround the Park, there is concern that the killing of male lions - who wander where they like, in and out of the Park - is having an adverse affect on the general lion population dynamics in the region. Monks therefore collared certain lions and tracked them, seeking to build up a clearer picture of where lions go and what happens to them. Because one person can't be everywhere at once, Wilderness Safaris can help out in very practical ways here, contributing time and logistics. Staff members at Ruckomechi have been caught up in the saga of lion lives and have thrown themselves into the study with verve and enthusiasm. In their free time they have tracked the various collared individuals, using Wilderness vehicles, and have even taken part in actual collaring operations.
What is becoming increasingly evident is that when males are killed in one place it causes ripple effects and upheaval in the larger area. If the results of the study can prove this, it will provide significant weight behind the drive to help end sport hunting of these magnificent beasts in the area.
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