Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park is likely Africa’s best kept safari secret! In most countries this park would be the star attraction but due to its remote location and the famed migration in the Serengeti this park has been an afterthought, largely reserved only for safari aficionados. In fact, Katavi receives around 1,200 visitors a year while Serengeti may have close to that in a single day. A few times we have sent clients in prime busy season and they have returned saying there were less then 10 tourists in the entire park.
Studies suggest that the mammal biomass in Katavi is the highest per square kilometer of any major park in East Africa. Of special interest Katavi boasts Africa’s greatest concentrations of African buffalo with herds that can number close to 3,000 and an estimated 60,000 in total throughout the park during dry season. When there’s that many buffalo lions are sure to be well represented too. Uniquely some species that can normally be shy and difficult to observe like roan and sable antelope, in Katavi can appear curious and sometimes behave as if they have never seen a game drive vehicle. For those who want to see wild Africa in a manner that approximates what early explorers would have seen with wildilfe not so habituated to constant game drive vehicles this is a great place.
Katavi National Park is located in the southwest part of Tanzania and is very isolated. Katavi is Tanzania’s third largest national park and is just over 1700 square miles in size. There are scheduled flights to this remote park just twice a week so guests either come for 3 night or 4 nights stays (or of course a whole week) and as the flight continues on to Mahale the two are frequently paired together in a fantastic wild west itinerary. That makes a perfect week and then can easily be cobined with Serengeti or Ruaha for a 10 day or longer safari.
The concentrations of large animals in Katavi is staggering. This park rivals anywhere for sheer quantities of buffalo, hippos and crocodiles. Late in the dry season groups of hippos and crocs pile in shoulder to shoulder by the hundreds in the remaining water making quite a spectacle. Lions are the most commonly seen predator while leopards inhabit the woodland edge habitat. Other plains game abounds.
- African Wild Dog
Below are some sample itineraries that include a visit to Katavi:
Best Times to Go
Katavi is at its best during the dry season of June into November. In most dry season parks conditions improve as the season progresses and in Katavi many do target this strategy to see the hippo and croc concentrations, but I love the early part of the season as well when the river is full and buffalo bulls line the banks – there is still so much to see. This park is still worthwhile outside of the dry season for its spectacular nature and the adventure the park delivers but during the low season it would be wise to combine it with the Serengeti.
Below are some of the accommodations available for Katavi National Park. Click a link below for more information.