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 accommodates guests in ten 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 our 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.
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. Activities include wildlife viewing in open 4x4 vehicles, on motorised pontoon boats, on foot and in canoes.
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.