Katavi National Park
An outstanding safari destination from July until November, coming here is entering safari Nirvana...
Superlatives about this fantastic park flow regularly from the mouths of those that have had the fortune to be able to come and visit this, Tanzania's third biggest National Park...and for good reason. Featuring hippos pods of thousands, denning crocodile, super herds of buffalo and predators galore (we even had one client who had a leopard chased under their vehicle by a pride of lion!) Katavi is, without doubt, one of Africa's best-kept secrets.
Located absolutely miles from anywhere, it is no surprise that it took a while for Katavi to really be discovered as a safari destination in the late 1980s. Since then, little has really changed. To visit the park now, with its three seasonal camps, is to visit a real diamond in the rough.
Roughly speaking, the park is made up of three interlocking flood plains that, in the rainy season form Lake Katavi, Lake Chada and the Chemchem Springs. Between each of these runs the Katuma and Kapapa Rivers that supply the park with water in both the dry and the wet season. This geographical payout is the reason for the park being, arguably, amongst one of the best in Africa.
While it is true to say that the viewing out of season is fairly dire, with the black cotton soil bringing even the most experienced of drivers to a standstill, the dry season game viewing is outstanding as the water dries and the evenings bring a veritable exodus of species to the small Katuma River system to drink. Along with vast herds of buffalo and plains game also come the inevitable predators of which there are many.
As mentioned in the summary passage, this park is not just great game numbers...as the rivers dry the areas for the water dwellers starts to diminish and many have worked out a strategy for surviving until the next downpour. For the hippos it is in sociability, all cramming together to form super-pods of up to 4 thousand. For the crocodiles it is digging caves out of the dried river banks and going to sleep in their hundreds.
There is nothing normal or ordinary about Katavi and, having visited a good proportion of the game parks of Africa, we definitely vote this in our top 3!
At a glance... Katavi National Park
- Size 1,730 square miles
- Location Western edge of Tanzania
- Recommended time 3 to 6 nights
- Time to visit June to November
- Safari Activities Walking, driving
- Topography Floodplains converge on a river system
- Main species Buffalo, lion, leopard, crocodile, hippo, elephant (HUGE numbers)