Katavi an isolated and hardly ever visited park is a true wilderness, offering the few fearless souls that make it there a thrilling experience of Africa just as it was hundreds of years back.
This is the third biggest national park in the whole of Tanzania; it lies in the isolated southwest part of this country, in a shortened arm of the Great Rift Valley which ends in the shallow, area of Lake Rukwa.
The vastness of Katavi National park supports a diverse featureless area of jumbled brachystegia woodland – habitat to substantial yet hard to pin down populations of elands, sables and the roan antelopes. However the main concentration for game viewing inside the park is around River Katuma and the connected floodplains like the seasonal Lakes Chada plus Katavi. In the rainy months, these verdant, swampy lakes are a refuge for countless water birds, and they as well support the biggest number of crocodiles and hippos in Tanzania.
In the dry season, the floodwaters reduce in level, and Katavi comes into its own. Katuma, reduced to a very low level, muddy drips, are the only available source of water for several kilometers around, and the neighboring floodplains support large numbers of wild animals beyond imaginary. Approximately 4,000 elephants at times gather in this area, in addition to more than one thousand buffaloes, while the countless giraffes, zebras, impalas plus reedbucks offer plenty of food to the population of lion plus spotted hyena that live within this area.
The most outstanding spectacle of Katavi is the large number of hippos. As the dry season comes to an end nearly 200 hippos can be seen together within any riverine pool that is deep enough. as more hippos congregate in the same place, so does male enmity heat up each day there are severe territorial fights, and the beaten male is forced to hang about miserable on the open plains until it finally gathers enough confidence and energy to mount another fight.
Location and size of Katavi National Park
The park covers an area of 4,471 square kilometers / 1,727 square miles.
It is located in the Southwestern part of Tanzania, just east of impressive Lake Tanganyika.
The park headquarters are found at Sitalike approximately 40km / 25 miles south of the town of Mpanda.
How to reach Katavi National Park
there are Charter flights connecting from Arusha or Dar es Salaam.
A hard yet spectacular drive from Mbeya over 550 km or 340 miles, or from Kigoma over 390 km or 240 miles but this route is specifically used in the dry season.
there is also railway service from Dar es Salaam through Tabora to Mpanda, there you can use public transport up to Sitalike, where you can arrange game drives. In case you are traveling overland, set aside enough time for the drive to and from the park.
Activities to enjoy in Katavi National Park
camping safaris, Walking safari and game drives.
close to Lake Katavi, you can visit the charming tamarind tree believed to be home by a spirit of the renowned hunter Katabi after whom this park was named. Up to today, locals are seen making offerings to this ‘spirit’ for blessings.
Best time to visit Katavi National Park
we recommend the dry season from May to October since in the rainy season the roads inside the park are usually flooded. However the roads can be passable from the middle of December up to February.