Katavi National Park is located 35km along the rift escarpment in Western Tanzania. It covers 4471 km² and is characterized by the vegetation of closed to open woodlands, scrublands, grasslands, swamps, seasonal lakes, and riverine vegetation. It was established in 1974 and is one of the most remote, vast, natural, and pristine parks in Africa. The park is also rich in plant and wildlife natural resources.
The park is drained by Lake Rukwa, and watered by Katuma River, and it is on this river that both lakes Katavi and Chada rely. Explore and discover the true wilderness of Katavi National Park!
Hippos in Katavi provide the most singular wildlife spectacle! Towards the end of the dry season, up to 200 hundred individuals might flop together in any riverine pool of sufficient depth. The Park offers wildlife in abundance and it has one of Tanzania’s greatest concentrations of buffalo, elephants, and hippopotamus. The scenery in the Park varies from seasonally inundated grassland plains in the shallow basins to the steep escarpments of the rift valley.
The main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River and associated floodplains such as the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Lake Chada within the park boundaries where most animals congregate. It also remains one of the best places in Tanzania to see interactions between lions and buffalos. Katavi is one of the few parks where visitors can catch a glimpse of both the roan and sable antelope in the same place.
Things to do in Katavi National Park.
Wildlife Safaris and Night Game Safaris
Taking a drive through the park, you get a chance to glimpse some wild animals like elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, and lions some of which can be seen consuming water at the famous water source River Katuma. Morning game drives in the park start as early as 6:30 am till 6:30 pm, while the night game drive commences at 8 pm till 11 pm. The night game drives can take about 2 to 3 hours.
Walking safaris/ Guided Nature walks.
Get in close proximity with the animals and bird species as you capture stunning pictures through the grasslands of Katavi National Park accompanied by a game ranger. The park offers both short and long guided nature walks. The short-guided nature walks are conducted along the Sitalike hiking trail, which is about 9 kilometers long and takes about 3 hours of hiking. The long walks are along the Chorangwa hiking trail. The trail is about 17 kilometers long and offers visitors over five hours of walking/hiking expeditions with stunning views of Chorangwa, Lukima, and Ndido waterfalls.
Katavi National Park is a one-stop destination for birding experiences with over 400 bird species occupying the park. These include forest birds, water birds, and migratory birds among others. Some of the birds that can be seen include; Red-billed Hornbills, Yellow-billed Saddle Black cuckoo-shrikes, little bee-eaters, and Crested Barbets.
The park also has something to offer for history and culture enthusiasts. The historical sites in the park include Stone and Iron Age sites in addition to sacred sites such as the Katabi Tree, where the Wabende spirit, Katabi, lives.
Where to stay in Katavi National Park
Katavi Wildlife Camp
The Camp is located in a prime game area in Katavi National Park. The camp is set on the edge of the Kitasunga plain, nestled in the fringe of woodland that skirts Lake Rukwa. The camp is located where the Katuma River drains the Kitasunga plain. The camp has 6 Meru style tents built up on elevated wooden platforms with thatched roofs and verandahs with hammocks overlooking the plain, all set back in amongst the trees that line the floodplain, providing both shade and camouflage in the prime game viewing area of the park. All the tents have bathrooms en suite with showers and toilets. Other facilities include a two-story main banda that has a sitting area where guests can relax with views overlooking the Kitasunga Plains. The downstairs consists of a bar, a few sitting areas with comfortable armchairs, and a cozy dining area at the front of the banda, overlooking the Kitasunga plains. At the front is our firepit, where guests can relax with drinks.
Mbali Mbali Katavi Lodge
The lodge is located in the center of the park, with 10 luxury safari tents (6 Doubles, 2 Twins, 2 Family Tents) overlooking Katisunga plain. Each canvas tent is built on a raised wooden platform and covered by a thatched roof. Each room has a sofa, a veranda, and a traditional Zanzibari bed and private decks. The main communal building at Mbali Mbali Katavi is raised off the ground and offers fine views from both its comfortable chairs and the large swimming pool. There are indoor and outdoor sitting and dining areas available depending on the weather, and you will be able to recharge batteries in the main lodge and also enjoy Wi-Fi connectivity. There is a small reference library for you to use as well as a bar stocked with local and imported drinks;
Chada Katavi is situated in the heart of the Katavi National Park, in western Tanzania, about 12km from the airstrip, 55km from the main Sitalike park gate, and 90km to the nearest town of Mpanda.
Chada Katavi consists of six walk-in guest tents, hidden in the trees flanking the Chada flood plain, furnished with fine wooden furniture, woven rugs, and beds spread with crisp white Egyptian cotton. The tents are large, romantic, and airy, with private bathrooms bush-deluxe set at the rear of each tent. Other facilities including a dining/restaurant, library, and a swimming pool. The camp is closed during the rainy season.
The best time to visit Katavi National Park
The best time to visit is in the dry season from June to October. During this period animals congregate at the water sources like River Katuma displaying perfect photographic views. In the rainy season, a good number of migratory bird species can be spotted in the park.
The wet season is ideal for bird watching, November up to April is when the migratory birds come from Europe as well as Northern Africa into the park. During this time, most of the resident birds are nesting and are in breeding plumage.
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