Dream of a safari? Go! Every park is different, but UNESCO-listed Mana Pools in Zimbawe has many of The Big Five. The park is close to the Zambezi river on the border to Zambia and not that visited.
In 2013 when my son was 8 years old, we visited some friends that were living in Harare, Zimbabwe. There are not lot of tourists in Zimbabwe – the country use to be a big tourist destination, but the political climate is very unstable now. The downside when you are a tourist (the citizens of course have it worse) is that the infrastructure is not good. The plus side is that you are almost alone in the camps. Be aware that a lot of Safari Camps don’t want children.
The bad infrastructure meant we had to rent a small plane (!) with an old English pilot to fly us out. Our plane dropped us off on a small landing strip. We told him he could just leave us – someone would come an pick us up. I am so glad he didn’t. Apparently a Belgian tourist was left the year before and was eaten by a lion!!! And it turned out that the internet (which is not functioning well there) didn’t deliver our message of arrival time. So our pilot had to call several people, and we had to stop a passing car from another camp before we were picked up. Thank you pilot!
The park is up North by the Zambezi river close to Zambia. We stayed in Kanga camp right beside a watering hole. There were max 8 other guests at any point.
One of the big 5 is of course the elephant. They walked right beside our tent when they had to go to and from the waterhole.
We had a private jeep and chauffeur/guide. It was more expensive, but well worth it. We could focus on the animals we wanted to see, nobody complained when I wanted to hear more about the insects and with a child, we could go out and back to the camp, when ever we wanted to.
We went in November – just at the end of the dry season, so all the plants had very little foliage and there were not so many waterholes – meaning it was easy to see and find the the animals. If you wanna go bird watching you should go in the rainy season.
The road between our tent and the dining area was a small trail also used by the animals – especially the baboons and the elephants. At night an armed guard escorted us.
The buffalo is also part of the big 5. This one is now host to a large number of small strange animals living off it’s horns. It’s the circle of life…
Another of the big 5 is the leopard. I know this is a bad picture, but it was the only leopard we saw. It came while we were eating dinner in the camp in front of the waterhole.
Remember good camera equipment and a steady hand!
Can you recommend a camp?