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Located in the far West of the country, Katavi is a safari park for the safari enthusiast. Often combined with nearby Mahale, Katavi it’s a park that receives very few travellers due to its inaccessibility and subsequent expensive cost of flights. The reward of spending the time and money to get here, however, is one of the last places in Africa that can take you back to bygone era; Katavi is nothing short of magical.
Huge herds of buffalo and vast lion prides duel daily, whilst hippos and crocodiles gather in pods and nests not found anywhere else in Africa. The park is truly wild with very few camps and very few visitors. Many safari connoisseurs would argue that this is the quintessential Tanzani safari park; we certainly believe it to be the countries best kept secret.
Katavi is one of the few places left in Africa today where you genuinely feel that you could have slipped back a thousand years. The volume of game here is outstanding, with some researchers believing that the concentrations are even higher than in Ngorongoro. There is certainly a high cost in getting here, but this fact has actually protected the park from the crowds that have affected other areas and when you eventually get to Katavi, the lodge prices are reasonable with the majority of the camps being very high quality and taking an approach to safari that should maybe be copied by other operators in other parks!
What Katavi excels at beyond all else is that there are very few places left in Africa offering as wild and untouched an experience as here. Combine this park with Mahale, specifically at Nomad Tanzania's Greystoke, and there is a good argument that this is the finest week to be had in Africa!
Katavi: The game
There are very few parks in Africa that showcase buffalo and lion duels quite so well; game drives here can be seriously explosive! Katavi is equally famous for its crocodile and hippo populations which gather in ridiculous numbers. The huge hippo pool can see 600 hippo at its peak and there is nowhere else in Africa where crocodiles hibernate in dens like in Katavi. Animals in Katavi have not really read the species behavioural rule book! Elephant herds and good numbers of zebra, giraffe, topi, leopard, waterbuck, hyena and very occasionally wild dog make this a park to compete with the finest safari experiences in the world.
Katavi: Safari activities
The main activity in Katavi is daytime game driving. Night safari is not permitted. Some of the camps operate walking safari and Nomad Tanzania's Chada Camp operates exceptional short fly camping trips with nights spent out under the stars.
Katavi: When to go
Like the Selous and Ruaha, Katavi is a classic dry season park with the game getting progressively better towards the end of the year. As the water holes and rivers dry up game congregates around the remaining river system and the park gets seriously good. With the rivers being the only source of water for miles around, herds move down from the surrounding hills and rely on the water to be found here. July to October is absolutely peak season for Katavi but more and more travellers are trying Katavi out of season, if only to have the park completely to themselves!
Katavi: Where to stay
Nomad Tanzania's Chada is the most famous camp in the park and, with only six classic safari tents, epitomises the essence of a place like this. It is our favourite camp in the park; the guiding and overall standards are what we have come to expect from a company as good as Nomad. The Foxes Katavi Wildlife camp probably has the pick of all locations in the park and although larger and not quite as well tuned as Nomad, has come up in recent years - it is a good way to make visits to the west of Tanzania more affordable. The final three camps take very little of our business simply because they do not offer the same standards as Nomads, or the value on offer at Foxes.
Recommended lodges in this area:
Chada is one of the most remote lodges we use in Tanzania, located in the Katavi National Park, one of the wildest game experiences in Tanzania. There are a handful of lodges in the park and this is by far the best property, run by Nomad Tanzania who are famous for their adventurous camps with some very good guiding and management. A stay at Chada is often complimented with a stay in neighbouring Mahale National Park at the other famous Nomad property- Greystoke.
Katavi only has a couple of accommodation options in the park and this is one of our favourites with a simply incredible view onto the plains. Owned and run by the Fox family, who have other properties in southern Tanzania this camp reflects what a classic safari camp should be like.
Greystoke is one of the best lodges in Africa, there is really nowhere else like it and the game experience is very different – trekking in the Mahale Mountains for Chimpanzees! Lake Tanganyika is an ancient lake and the second largest by volume in the world. The main thatched building sits on the white beach and the 6 bandas are hidden into the edge of the undergrowth with incredible views out onto the water. It’s not cheap but if you have travelled all this way then you simply must stay at this lodge.