HAVE YOUR SAY: PUBLIC ACCESS IN MANA POOLS NATIONAL PARK

The Zambezi Society has serious concerns that public access to the Zambezi River in Mana Pools National Park is being eroded by the increasing number of "high value" and "exclusive-use" tourism concessions being issued in the Park by the ZimParks Authority.

Some of these are located inland around pans, but many of them situated on the alluvial "floodplain" area along the river.  Almost without exception, these are surrounded by a concession area, the boundaries of which are marked "PRIVATE", "RESTRICTED" or "NO ENTRY". 

In addition, the ZimParks Exclusive Campsites at Ndungu, Mucheni, BBC, Gwaya and Ncupe have also long been marked with "PRIVATE, NO ENTRY" signs in order to protect the privacy of the occupying clients.

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There are now less than a handful of picnic, fishing spots or "Car Park" areas along the river which are available for public access.   During popular school holiday periods, these can get crowded out.

Where is the poor independent (often local) "low-end" visitor supposed to find riverside recreation that is not packed with others like himself looking for a quiet spot to relax and enjoy this magnificent World Heritage Site?

We'd like to hear your views on this matter.

And it gets worse....

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Last year, The Zambezi Society successfully defended the rights of Public Access to Mana Mouth - at the confluence of the Mana and Zambezi Rivers downstream of Nyamepi - against a proposed 24-bed tourism development based at Ncupe Camp.  The proposed concession area for this camp directly overlooked Mana Mouth and Public Access to this popular fishing and sundowner spot would inevitably have been restricted.  Not to mention the fact that  Ncupe Campsite itself was being removed from Public Use.   Fortunately this proposal has not gone ahead,  and we thank ZimParks and the private concessionaire for taking our inputs seriously and making a positive change by agreeing to move the camp further downstream into the Nyamatusi Wilderness Area.  

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This year we understand that Vundu Point (another popular fishing and picnic spot) has been removed from Public Access because it is part of a nearby private tourism concession. 

The Chikwenya Concession at the easternmost end of Mana Pools is soon to re-open as a private tourism concern, and the whole of the Sapi Safari Area downstream from Mana Pools is now in the hands of a private tourism operator.  The Zambezi Society has firmly requested that Public Access be maintained through the Sapi and that provision be made for public access to river areas in the tourism plan for this concession.  We have yet to hear whether our requests have fallen on deaf ears or not....

IF, LIKE US, YOU FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT RESTRICTIONS OF PUBLIC ACCESS AT MANA POOLS, WE'D LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU.   WE'D ALSO WELCOME YOUR POSITIVE SUGGESTIONS OR HELPFUL IDEAS FOR NEW PUBLIC ACCESS SPOTS. 

PLEASE RESPOND BY END OCTOBER 2018.   KEEP YOUR RESPONSES SHORT AND TO THE POINT.   We respect your right to privacy and will not share your name or contact details in any submissions.

E-MAIL US AT zambezi@iwayafrica.co.zw    

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Zambezi Society