Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park – Travel Season | Plan | Guide

(Last Updated On: April 9, 2021)

Katavi National Park is a Tanzanian National park created in 1974 and is positioned in Katavi Area, Tanzania. It’s a very distant park that’s much less often visited than different Tanzanian national parks.

Katavi National Park

The park is roughly 4,471 sq. kilometers (1,726 sq mi) in space, which makes it the third-largest national park in Tanzania. The park encompasses the Katuma River and the seasonal Lake Katavi and Lake Chada floodplains.

The wilderness of Katavi National Park, positioned within the western space of Tanzania, is among the most untouched areas in your entire nation.

Katavi’s dramatic surroundings are as diverse as it’s pristine. Flood plains of thick reeds and dense waterways are residence to enormous inhabitants of hippo and diverse birdlife. Within the woodlands to the west, forest canopies shroud herds of buffaloes and elephants.

Seasonal lakes fill with soiled colored water after the rains and animals from all corners of the park descend in them to drink.

The park can also be residence to the uncommon roan and sable antelope species, and it’s a must-see for the guests aspiring to discover the wilds of the continent.

Remoted, untrammeled, and rarely visited, Katavi is a real wilderness, offering the few intrepid souls who make it there with an exciting style of Africa as if it will need to have been a century in the past.

Tanzania’s third-largest national park; it lies within the distant space southwest of the nation, inside a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates within the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa.

The majority of Katavi helps a hypnotically featureless cowl of tangled Brachystegia woodland, residence to substantial however elusive populations of the localized eland, sable, and roan antelopes.

However, the principal focus for sport viewing throughout the park is the Katuma River and related floodplains such because of the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Chada.

Throughout the wet season, these lush, marshy lakes are a haven for myriad water birds, and so they additionally assist Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippos and crocodiles.


It’s through the dry season, when the floodwaters retreat, that Katavi really comes into life. The Katuma, lowered to a shallow muddy trickle, varieties the one supply of ingesting water for miles round, and the flanking floodplains assist sport concentrations that defy perception.

An estimated 4,000 elephants would possibly converge on the world, along with a number of herds of 1,000-plus buffalo, whereas an abundance of giraffes, zebras, impalas, and reedbucks present straightforward pickings for the quite a few lions feelings of pride and noticed hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.

Katavi’s most singular wildlife spectacle is offered by its hippos. In the direction of the top of the dry season, as much as 200 people would possibly flop collectively in any riverine pool of adequate depth.

And as extra hippos collect in a single place, so does male rivalry warmth up – bloody territorial fights are an on a regular basis incident, with the vanquished male compelled to lurk hapless on the open plains till it gathers adequate confidence to mount one other problem.


Wildlife options embody giant animal herds, significantly of Cape Buffaloes, zebras, wildebeest, giraffes, and elephants, plus alongside the Katuma river, crocodiles and hippopotami which upon annual dry seasons leads to mudholes that may be full of a whole lot of hippos.

Carnivorous animals that roam this park are cheetahs, wild canine, hyenas, leopards, and lions. Some sources declare really excessive biodiversity within the park, though there are additional studies of wildlife decline on account of unlawful looking and poaching, presumably ‘bushmeat’ sustenance. Katavi has fewer human guests and jeeps conducting sport drives than different Tanzania parks.

Katavi National Park is blessed with Lake Katavi within the north and Lake Chada and Katuma River within the south. These water sources present sustenance for 1000’s of animals.

The watery grasslands and miombo woodlands reverberate with the most important herds of buffaloes on earth!

There are as many as three thousand Buffalo in a single herd, and when they’re on the transfer, they create clouds of mud which will be seen from afar.

The place there are Buffalo there are additionally predators like Hyena, Leopard, and essentially the most profitable Buffalo hunter of all of them – lion!


The variety of guests to the park on an annual foundation is extraordinarily low, compared to higher recognized parks, simply above 1,500 overseas guests out of a complete 900,000 registered in the entire Tanzania National Parks system throughout 2012/13.

A survey of the particular rooms bought by the out there ‘Safari’ fashion lodging would possibly reveal the quantity, however, based mostly on complete room rely upon and season size, a higher restriction can be estimated.

Along with a public campsite (positioned at SO 06’39’19.1 E0 031’08’07.9), as of 2013, there have been solely three everlasting camps permitted to function at Katavi, particularly the Mbali Mbali Katavi Lodge and the Foxes on the Katuma Plain and the Chada on the Chada Plain. These camps every has a customer capability restriction of roughly one dozen every.

Entry to the park

Attending to Katavi for guests will probably be organized by the internet hosting camp, with one of many out their constitution flight companies being the Mbali Mbali Shared Constitution (operated by Zantac Air Providers) or Safari Air Hyperlink.

All flights would require touchdown on a mud airstrip; the Ikuu airstrip (close to the Ikuu Rangerpost) has minimal companies.

It is rather roughly a three-hour flight from Katavi to Dar es Salaam and a two-hours flight to Mwanza through a small, bush-compatible mild plane. A flight to Arusha is equally ~three hours distant and operates on restricted service often solely twice every week on Mondays and Thursdays.

Entry to Katavi through floor transportation: estimates fluctuate extensively; it’s usually mentioned not in hours however in days.

The city of Mbeya is (550 km/340 miles) distant and is described as a “…robust however spectacular…” drive; Google Maps signifies that Mbeya is 838 km from Dar es Salaam, making the entire distance roughly 1,400 km (870 mi) and requiring 20+ hours.

Probably the most direct path to Dar es Salaam as per Google Maps is approx. 1250 km (~800 miles) and requiring 16+ hours. Arusha is equally distant: 1000+km /13.5 hours.

The share of transit on unpaved surfaces is unknown, however, components of all of those routes will certainly be on filth roads. Since all the above instances from Google Maps assume a mean transit pace of 80 km (50 mph), all these indicated journey instances must be thought of to be optimistic.

Away from the Crowds

The one individuals you will note are the lodge employees and different companies. Katavi is admittedly off the crushed observe and is ideal for the safari explorer who actually desires to get into the wilds of Africa.

The far west of Tanzania provides residence to 2 of Tanzania’s lesser-recognized National parks: Katavi National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park.

This western circuit is extraordinarily distant, difficult to entry, and fairly expensive to go to. In consequence, few individuals take the time to return right here and so it has remained untouched, distinctive expertise, and completely value visiting.

Katavi National Park is a reputation to conjure with. It is among the finest parks in Africa and lots of safari operations would love to start out camps right here.

Nevertheless, the logistics and prices are so troublesome, that there are solely a few small, everlasting safari camps sharing this 4,500km² of wilderness. You generally run throughout extra feelings of pride of the lion than different individuals on a sport drive.

Flora & Fauna of Katavi National Park

As soon as in Katavi, Tanzania’s third-largest national park will not disappoint you. Two monumental plains of knee-high golden grass – Chada and Katasunga – dominate the park, surrounded by diverse woodlands and an unusually plentiful quantity of sport.

Katavi’s animals

Katavi National Park is at its finest within the dry season when the plains fill with 1000’s of zebra, topi, and impala. Hartebeest, giraffe, and Defassa waterbuck are additionally quite common, there are big inhabitants of resident elephants and a few spectacular herds of buffalo.

Katavi is a good park for watching lion-buffalo interactions. Noticed hyena is often seen, while leopard seems on the woodland fringes, however, are extra elusive. The wild canine does reside right here, however, it has a tendency to stay to the escarpment and is not often seen on the plains.

Throughout the dry season, the Katuma and Kapapa rivers are the one water for miles. As the sports information all the way down to drink, a whole lot of hippo congregate within the tiniest waterhole and large crocodiles sit out the warmth in river-bank mud-holes.

Katavi National Park

Lake Chada

Katavi additionally has one other declare to fame – palm-fringed Lake Chada has so many Hippopotamus and Crocodiles, it’s mentioned to include the best inhabitants of each in Africa.

Add to this 400 totally different species of birds and you’ll perceive why Katavi is a really particular place for the safari fanatic. Katavi National Park is Tanzania’s third largest park and is an undisturbed pure wilderness away from the mainstream vacationer areas.


Katavi hosts giant flocks of open-billed and saddle-billed storks, spoonbills, crested cranes, and pink-backed pelicans. Raptors are plentiful while the woodlands of the National park are residence to species as various as African golden orioles, paradise fly-catchers, and pennant-winged nightjars.

Vegetation in Katavi

Katavi is located on the northern facet of the ‘Rukwa Rift’, an extension of the Western Rift Valley. Katavi’s dry woodlands are dominated by Brachystegia species, which are largely native to tropical Africa and dotted very densely round this space.

Attending to Katavi National Park

Katavi’s isolation has helped it to stay untouched and largely unvisited; by mild plane, it takes 4 or 5 hours to succeed in right here from Dar or Arusha.

Nevertheless, the result’s that while the Serengeti National Park sees round 120,000 guests each year, Katavi has only some hundred guests per yr!

The least costly solution to get to Katavi (and the Mahale Mountains, which is comparatively close by) is through the use of twice-weekly scheduled flights which hyperlink these parks with Arusha, in northern Tanzania.

Working on Mondays and Thursdays, their comparatively excessive value helps to make these parks two of Tanzania’s costliest locations!

There are additional flights routing Dar-Selous-Ruaha to Katavi/Mahale, and again. These additionally run on Mondays and Thursdays. Sadly, the prices for these are just like the prices of chartering; actually no decrease than the schedule flights from Arusha.

Location; Southwest Tanzania, east of Lake Tanganyika.

The headquarters at Sitalike lie 40km (25 miles) south of Mpanda city.

How to Go

Constitution flights from Dar or Arusha.

A tricky however spectacular day’s drive from Mbeya (550 km/340 miles), or within the dry season solely from Kigoma (390 km/240 miles).

It’s doable to succeed in Mpanda by rail from Dar through Tabora, then to get public transport to Sitalike, the place sport drives will be organized. If traveling overland, enable loads of time to get there and again.

What to do

Strolling, driving, and tenting safaris.

Close to Lake Katavi, go to the tamarind tree inhabited by the spirit of the legendary hunter Katabi (for whom the park is called) – Choices are nonetheless left right here by locals searching for the spirit’s blessing.

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