Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park : Katavi is a true wilderness that is isolated, untamed, and hardly visited; those few brave souls who do make it there get a thrilling flavor of Africa as it must have been a century ago. It is the third-largest national park in Tanzania and is located in the far southwest of the nation within a shortened arm of the Rift Valley that ends in the shallow, ominous expanse of Lake Rukwa.

Katavi National Park is known for its various landscapes and abundance of animals, but its main draw is its remoteness. This has ensured that the area has stayed pristine. With so few visitors, a Katavi safari will make you feel like you’re the only humans on the planet! With enormous numbers of elephants, lions, hippos, and other animals, game watching is breathtaking, especially during the dry season when water supplies dry up.

The majority of Katavi is covered in a hypnotically featureless cover of tangled Brachystegia woods, which is home to significant but elusive populations of localized eland, sable, and roan antelopes.

The Katuma River and adjoining floodplains, such as the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Chada, are the main focus for wildlife watching within the park. These lush, marshy lakes provide a home for countless water birds during the rainy season, and they also support Tanzania’s densest populations of hippo and crocodile.

Katavi truly comes into its own during the dry season, when the floodwaters recede. The Katuma, reduced to a shallow, muddy trickle, is the only supply of potable water for miles around, and the flanking floodplains support incredible animal populations.

An estimated 4,000 elephants and many herds of 1,000 or more buffalo may congregate in the area, while an abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala, and reedbuck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories overlap on the floodplains.

 The hippos provide Katavi’s most unique wildlife display. By the end of the dry season, up to 200 individual can flop in any riverine pool of appropriate depth. And as more hippos congregate in one area, male rivalry heats up; brutal territorial clashes are common, with the defeated male left to lurk forlorn on the wide plains until it gathers enough courage to undertake another challenge.


  • A remote locale with a surprisingly low annual visitor population
  • Many ecosystems include open grasslands, wooded areas, and seasonal lakes and rivers.
  • A diverse range of huge game, including spectacular herds of thousands of buffalo
  • Tanzania has the densest hippo and crocodile populations.
  • Walking safaris are permitted at Katavi for an authentic wilderness experience.
  • Awe-inspiring birds, with over 400 species
  • Several cultural and historical landmarks, including the fabled Katabi Tree


Of course, the major activity is wildlife viewing, which can be done on both game drives and guided walking safaris. The advantage of going on a wildlife drive in Katavi National Park is that you are unlikely to encounter any other humans. Walking safaris are a must-do if you want to get up close and personal with the African wilderness and experience its sights, sounds, and smells.

Fly-camping safari is offered. This is the ultimate definition of bush camping, with ordinary tents (don’t expect luxury!) set up in the middle of nowhere at a temporary campsite. There are no gates, flush toilets, or showers. It’s living in the outdoors, making food over a fire, and spending evenings conversing around the campfire, gazing up at the spectacular African night sky and listening to wild creatures’ nocturnal calls.

 Katavi is home to a multitude of cultural and historical landmarks. They include stone and Iron Age structures as well as sacred locations such as the Katabi Tree, which is home to the Wabende spirit, Katabi.


Katavi National Park, like the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park, is a classic dry-season park, with wildlife viewing improving towards the end of the year. The dry season, from June to October, is by far the best time to see animals for anyone fortunate enough to visit Katavi.

The Katuma River is one of the only sources of water during the dry season, and it serves as a lifeline for both large and small creatures who congregate along its banks to drink and wash. When the remaining lakes and swamps dried up, up to a thousand hippos would gather together for that last drop of water.

Huge crocodiles can be spotted sunbathing or swimming in the remnant mud pools. While July to October is unquestionably peak season for Katavi, an increasing number of visitors are visiting the park outside of season, if only to have the area entirely to themselves!

Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park


The cost of getting here is definitely expensive, but this has shielded the park from the crowds that have afflicted other regions, and once here, lodge costs are affordable and the bulk of the camps are of extremely high quality. Chada Katavi is the park’s most well-known camp. It represents the essence of a remote safari camp, with only six classic safari tents, and the guiding and general standards are what we have come to expect from a firm as fine as Nomad. Mbali-Mbali Katavi is another excellent alternative.


By car: driving to Katavi National Park from Dar es Salaam takes two to three days and demands a certain amount of adventure-seeking. Even more so the road from Arusha.

 Via air: Scheduled flights departing from Dar es Salaam every two weeks are by far the most convenient method to travel to Katavi National Park. Moreover, private flights can be scheduled.

Do you want to go on a safari in Katavi National Park? You can include it in any Tanzania safari vacation that we design for you. The next step is to contact us and inform us about everything you want to include in your trip. You’re only a few steps away from your ultimate Tanzania safari vacation!