Why Travel Here?
Katavi boasts the highest hippo and crocodile population in the country. Its undisturbed natural landscape makes Katavi National Park stand out above the other more regularly visited Parks in the country and the huge bonus is that there’s little chance you’ll have to share the Park with anyone else – except an abundance of wildlife.
The name Katavi immortalises a legendary hunter, Katabi, whose spirit is believed to possess a tamarind tree ringed with offerings from locals begging his blessing.
Katavi National Park is located in the southwest of Tanzania, on a high flood plain surrounding Lake Katavi, to the south of the Mahale Mountains. It is about 40 kilometres southeast of Mpanda town and is remote and quite difficult to reach – an air charter is probably the best way to access this Park. Katavi National Park covers an area of 4 471 square kilometres.
Four of the Big Five are found here: leopard, lion, elephant and buffalo; as well as: Spotted hyena, hippo, crocodile, eland, roan and sable antelopes, Southern reedbuck, Topi and zebra. There are over 1500 buffalo roaming the plains and the game viewing is excellent because of the veracity of the wilderness. Lake Chada is known for its density of crocodiles as well as abundant bird life. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded here including large flocks of pelicans.
The major features of the Park include: Lake Katavi with its vast short grass flood plains in the north, the palm fringed Lake Chada in the southeast, and the Katuma River.
Vegetation consists of mainly miombo woodland. There are also swamps, the Katavi flood plain vegetation, and in the south the palm-fringed Lake Chada with scattered Acacia trees.
The best months to visit are in the dry season of May - October since the Park is inaccessible in the rains and KataviTented Camp is closed.
Game drives, walking safaris and bird watching are the activities on offer.
Charter flights can be arranged from Dar es Salaam and Arusha and the Park maintains an airstrip for charter planes.
Katavi is on the main road running through western Tanzania from north to south. It is 550 km from Mbeya and 390 km from Kigoma but this journey is only possible in the dry season. One should always allow plenty of time if driving these tough but spectacular routes.