Katavi National park

Katavi National Park is a remote and relatively untouched wilderness area located in the western part of Tanzania. It is one of the lesser-known national parks in the country but is renowned for its unspoiled landscapes, abundant wildlife, and the feeling of true isolation. At a coverage area of 4,471 square kilometers, Katavi national park is the third largest national park in Tanzania. It encompasses Katuma river and the seasonal Lake Katavi and Lake Chada floodplains.

The park is known for protecting large animal herds including cape buffalos, zebras, giraffes and elephants. Also, the park hosts different carnivorous animals including cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas, leopards, and lots of lions.

Katavi National park attractions.

Standing as the third largest national park of Tanzania, Katavi features several attractions that create a memorable experience to the visitors. Among these attractions include;

Katuma River

The Katuma River is a lifeline for wildlife in Katavi, especially during the dry season when other water sources dwindle. The river attracts large concentrations of animals, including hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and various bird species.

Katisunga Plains

The vast Katisunga Plains are a key highlight of Katavi. During the dry season, these plains become a focal point for wildlife as herds of buffalo, zebras, and other herbivores gather around the remaining water sources.

Wildlife Viewing

Katavi is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, and numerous antelope species. The park’s remote location means that visitors can experience a more exclusive and less crowded safari compared to more popular destinations. Among the animals to watch while in the park include; giraffes, elephants, waterbucks, spotted hyenas, lions, topi, impala, buffaloes, hartebeest, zebras, reedbuck, hippos, crocodiles, water birds among others.

Birdwatching

Katavi is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, with over 400 species recorded. Water birds, raptors, and various songbirds can be spotted along the riverbanks, lakes, and in the park’s diverse habitats. While in the park, birding is done around Lake Katavi and River Katuma and its best done during the rainy season. During the encounter, you can look out for bird species such as the paradise flycatcher, red billed hornbill, open billed stork, yellow throated sand grouse, fish eagle, pink backed pelican, white backed vulture, crested barbet, little bee-eater, goliath heron, cuckoo hawk, crowned plover, cattle egret, whistling duck, wattled plover, spur winged goose, little sparrow hawk, night heron, brown snake eagle, black kite, black headed heron, broad billed roller, bare faced go-away bird among others.

Katavi’s Woodlands

In addition to open plains, the park features woodlands that are home to various species of trees and plants. Exploring these areas can provide a different perspective on the park’s ecology and offer opportunities to see different bird and mammal species.

Hippo Pools

The Katuma River and other water bodies in the park are home to large populations of hippos. Dedicated “hippo pools” allow visitors to observe these semi-aquatic mammals as they interact and laze in the water.

Crocodile Pool

Katavi is known for its sizable crocodile population. One notable spot is the “Crocodile Pool,” where these reptiles can often be seen basking in the sun or patrolling the riverbanks.

Walking Safaris

Katavi offers the unique opportunity for guided walking safaris, allowing visitors to explore the park on foot and experience its ecosystems at a more intimate level. Walking safaris provide a chance to appreciate the smaller details of the environment and wildlife.

Fly Camping

Some operators offer fly camping experiences in Katavi, allowing visitors to spend a night or two in a temporary camp set up in a remote location. This adds an adventurous and immersive element to the safari experience.

Sunset and Sunrise Views:

The remote location of Katavi provides excellent opportunities for stunning sunset and sunrise views. The changing colors of the sky against the backdrop of the wilderness create memorable moments for visitors.

Best time to visit Katavi national park

Katavi national park can be visited any time throughout the year though the best period is during the dry season on the months of June to October. During the dry season there is less rainfall in the park therefore there will be short grass which gives you clear viewing of the animals and Katuma River will reduce to a narrow stream hence attracting big numbers of animals which come to drink water.

For the bird lovers, the best time to visit the park is during the wet season which is in the months of November to April.

Where to stay on your safari in Katavi national park

There are a number of accommodations in Katavi national park where you can stay and they range from luxury, midrange, budget and camping sites. The lodges in the park include Nomad Tented Camp, Katavi Wildlife Camp, Chada Camp, Mbali Mbali Katavi Lodge, Chada Fly Camping, Katuma Bush Lodge, Palahala Luxury Camp and Campsites for example Ikuu public campsite, Chada special campsite, Kapimbye special campsite, Kapilula special campsite HQ public campsite, Katavi picnic site among others.

How to access the park

Usually, the point of entry into Tanzania is Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) situated approximately 46 kilometers or 29 miles from the town of Arusha, or at Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) found in the capital city Dar es Salaam. To access the park, yon use private road transport where your tour operator receives you from the airport and follow your tailored itinerary.