Katavi National Park
Largely untouched by civilization, Katavi National Park is for those seeking isolation amongst stunning views, far from the distant hum of safari vehicles. With only a few hundred annual visitors, you are more likely to meet a pride of lions here than another party on a game drive.
Katavi National Park, Overview
Known for its diverse landscapes and abundance of game, Katavi National Park’s drawcard is its remoteness. This has ensured that the area has remained completely unspoilt. With so few visitors around, a Katavi safari is guaranteed to make you feel like the only people on earth! With large populations of elephants, lions, hippos and more, game viewing is beyond spectacular, especially during the dry season when water sources dwindle.
There are only 3 permanent camps in Katavi National Park: Mbali Mbali Katavi Lodge, Chada on the Chada Plain, and the Foxes on the Katuma Plain. Each camp has the capacity to host 12 visitors, a limit which adds to the sense of exclusivity. Katavi National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including wildebeest, giraffes, elephants, zebras, African buffaloes, lions, leopards, and cheetahs.
Crocodiles and hippos are frequently spotted on the banks of the Katuma River. During the dry season, hippos relax in mud-holes and cover themselves in mud sunscreen to protect their sensitive skin. Katavi is also a refuge for wild dogs, a critically endangered species.
Where does Katavi National Park fit into your Tanzanian adventure?
Katavi National Park lies on the western safari circuit, alongside Lake Tanganyika, the Mahale Mountains, and Gombe Stream National Park. The western safari circuit is rarely visited due to the high cost of travelling to this secluded location.
However, the circuit is renowned for offering excellent wildlife viewing opportunities in its untarnished wilderness. The western safari circuit is primarily accessed from Arusha and Dar es Salaam via plane or boat.
You cannot reach Katavi National Park by road as the western circuit is too far from major cities and inaccessible due to its forest terrain.
Getting to Katavi National Park
By car – Katavi National Park is a two- to three-day drive from Dar es Salaam and requires a definite level of adventure-seeking. The road from Arusha, even more so.
By air – By far, the easiest way to get to Katavi National Park is with twice-weekly scheduled flights from Dar es Salaam. Chartered flights can also be arranged.
When to visit Katavi National Park
The best time to visit Katavi National Park is during the annual dry season from June to December. During the dry season, the Katuma River is one of the only water sources within the surrounding area, and you will have spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities around the river.
Hundreds of hippos and crocodiles gather around the scarce waterholes, and thousands of topis, impalas, and zebras pass through the plains.
Even in peak season, you will feel like you have Katavi all to yourself.