A true wildeerness
Isolated, untrammelled and seldom visited, Katavi is a true wilderness, providing the few intrepid souls who make it there with a thrilling taste of Africa as it must have been a century ago.
Tanzania’s third largest national park, it lies in the remote southwest of the country, within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates in the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa.
Katavi’s woodland is home to substantial but elusive populations of the localised eland, sable and roan antelopes. But the main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River and the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Lake Chada. During the rainy season, these lush lakes are a haven for myriad waterbirds, and they also support Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippo and crocodile.
During the dry season, the floodwaters retreat and Katavi truly comes into its own. The Katuma, reduced to a shallow, muddy trickle, forms the only source of drinking water for miles around, and the floodplains support game concentrations that defy belief. An estimated 4,000 elephants might converge on the area, together with several herds of 1,000-plus buffalo, while an abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala and reedbuck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.
Katavi’s most singular wildlife spectacle is provided by its hippos. Towards the end of the dry season, up to 200 individuals might flop together in any riverine pool of sufficient depth. And as more hippos gather in one place, so does male rivalry heat up – bloody territorial fights are an everyday occurrence, with the male forced to lurk hapless on the open plains until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount another challenge.
And let’s not forget the crocodiles that mass together in nests of up to 15 making it the only place in Africa where they (and the same goes for the hippos) come together in such large groups.
When is the best time to visit?
Just like the southern parks it’s prime time is during the dry season when the lakes and rivers are almost dry. Absolutely best period is between July and October but we wouldn’t rule out going off season if only to be compeltely alone in the park!
What is there to do?
The main activity is day game drive beacause night game drive is not allowed in the park; some of the camps also offer walking safaris.
How about accomodation?
Nomad’s Chada Camp is the diamond of accomodations in the park and although it is on the very high end and a price tag to show for it we do love this camp. Other luxury camp options with a slightly lower price are MbaliMbali’s Katuma Bush Lodge, Foxes Katavi Wildlife Camp (best location), Flycatcher’s Katavi Camp and Palahala Camp.
The cheaper but excellent option (we at Lemasani do love our value for money options) are the TANAPA bandas; very clean and spacious self-contained bandas and space for cooking- we higly recommend bringing a local cook that can prepare your meals and not eating the meals offered for purchase.
Peak at our pictures of this truly unique national park.