Katavi National Park

A tailor-made safari in Katavi National Park is a great example of how a little bit of effort can yield some truly spectacular rewards. Indeed, the remote location and the fact it is less accessible than many of Tanzania’s other parks, just makes Katavi all the more appealing. Wildlife here is abundant, especially during the dry season, and having it pretty much all to yourself is just the icing on the cake.

About Katavi National Park

Located in the south-western region of Tanzania, Katavi National Park is the country’s third-biggest national park at 4,471 km². Due to its remote location, Katavi receives very few annual visitors compared to parks and reserves such as the Serengeti and even the Selous. However, for those willing to travel to this wild corner of Tanzania, a rather special African safari adventure awaits.

There is a network of seasonal rivers that intersect Katavi National Park, with the biggest being the Kapapa and Katuma Rivers. During the drier months between June and October, these dwindling rivers are the only sources of water in Katavi, and impressive amounts of wildlife congregates along the riverbanks. Clashes between animals vying for space at the waterhole are common and make for exciting game viewing. Opportunistic predators are also never far away and witnessing a hunt is often on the cards. As a result, a bespoke Katavi safari can rival any on the planet for excitement but without the crowds.

Katavi is less accessible than many other parks in Tanzania, which is the main reason so few people visit, but flights are available from Arusha which take around four hours. A luxury safari in Katavi National Park can be combined with the Mahale Mountains National Park and flights are possible between both parks.


Katavi National Park

Katavi is renowned for large herds of buffalo and their frequent interaction with the park’s lions. The most common predators found on safari in Katavi are lion and hyena, with sightings of both often equalling those in the Serengeti and Masai Mara, particularly during the dry season when prey animals congregate along the riverbanks. Leopards are typically elusive and tend to reside in the woodland that skirts the floodplains. Sightings of African wild dogs are possible but rare as they prefer to stick to the protection of the nearby escarpment.

During the dry season, large numbers of game graze on the vast plains of knee-high golden grass. Buffalo, zebra, topi and impala are all frequently encountered, with the rarer roan and sable antelope also found in the park. Katavi’s elephant population is very strong with around 3,000 individuals, many of which are often seen asserting their dominance over other animals when waterhole levels are low.

During the dry months water levels in the rivers recede and hippos jostle together in small pools. It’s common to see over 500 hippos at a time, often with a variety of water birds perched on their backs. Crocodiles are unable to compete with the hippos for space in the water. Instead, they burrow into the riverbanks and squeeze into small caves, behaviour not displayed by crocodiles in many other parts of Africa.

Game drives in 4×4s are the safest and most effective way to enjoy a family safari in Katavi National Park. Encountering wildlife is far more frequent in a vehicle due to your ability to cover more ground quickly. Camps also offer night drives as well as walking safaris in Katavi National Park.

Bird Watching in Katavi National Park

Birding in Katavi is excellent, although the peak time to see birds tends to be during the wetter months when the park becomes almost impossible to navigate. There is a diverse range of species that reside within the park, including the shoebill stork, African golden oriole, crested barbet, African paradise flycatcher and little bee-eater.

Best Places to Stay in Katavi National Park

There are very few camps in Katavi due to its remote location and low visitor numbers, which means anyone willing to venture to this secluded corner of Tanzania is promised a true African bush adventure. Katavi National Park camps offer an exciting base from which to explore the Katavi wilderness, and there is variety enough to suit most budgets.

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Best Time to Visit Katavi National Park

During the drier months between June and October game viewing is easier and often very rewarding. Animals congregate in huge numbers near the water and predators capitalise on such an abundance of game. This is when game viewing in Katavi is at its best.

Katavi National Park’s plains often flood during the wetter months between April and May, forming lakes knowns as Lake Chada and Lake Katavi. While the park is luscious, green and excellent for birds, travel within Katavi can be very difficult and camps do close.

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How to Book a Katavi National Park Safari Holiday

To discuss your Tanzania safari holiday, Katavi safari packages and tailor-made itineraries, speak to one of our Tanzania experts today by contacting us.