Zimbabwe, Zambia

Kariba & Middle Zambezi

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Mana in the wet season

Mana in the wet season

Hippos take advantage of the cooler weather in December and graze more frequently
Hippos take advantage of the cooler weather in December and graze more frequently
Christopher Scott



Twitter @Scottyphoto





The deep rumble of thunder rolled across the wind-ruffled water as the branches of the nearby ana trees bent and swayed in the rushing gale. The billowing cloud of dust that accompanied each mounting burst of wind momentarily blurred the dramatic scene unfolding in front of me as the dark heavens opened and unleashed a torrent on the opposite bank of the Zambezi River.

I took a few more sips of my beer and watched the Zambian escarpment being lashed by rain, enjoying the sunshine on the Zimbabwean side for the moment, knowing that it wouldn't last long. I had arrived in Mana Pools National Park a few days before the first rains of the season descended on the dry, parched landscape and transformed it from a dusty, barren valley into a mud-soaked sponge.

Mana in the wet season is not the place for long game drives; the wet black cotton soil swiftly turns the roads into Cruiser-swallowing mud pits and getting about is restricted to how brave you are and how effective your four-wheel drive is. That having been said, one beauty of the wet season in Mana Pools is watching the transformation of the surrounding wilderness from dry and barren to wet and flourishing.

There was an immediate flush of green which turned the cracked earth into a carpet, the velvet spiders and ‘Kalahari Ferraris’ (solifuges) scurried about busily, often in such numbers that the ground appeared to be moving, and red. Our much shorter game drives revealed newborns of all kinds joyfully frolicking in the spirit of the new season. We even bumped into a snoozing hippo, alarmingly hidden in a large puddle in the middle of the road - needless to say he got as much of a fright as we did!

Mana in the wet is a paradise worth visiting and enjoying, but on foot, or from the comfort of your lodge’s verandah. Be kind to the roads and those who have to maintain them and rather look for the smaller things, or just sit back, enjoy your beer and revel in the rain.