Katavi, in Tanzania’s far west, is an up and coming attraction, part of a safari circuit which includes the national parks of Ruaha and Mahale – remote, raw and unique places.
The few people who do visit this park each year invariably return enthusing about it. The park centres on a series of wide floodplains, connected by a network of seasonal rivers – Ngolema, Katisunga, Katavi and Chada – which form the focus of Katavi’s game viewing.
Katavi’s floodplains are covered with waist-high golden grass in the dry season, or green and flooded like a mini-Okavango after the rains. And, this undiscovered wilderness is awash with plains game: elephant, leopard, giraffe, lion, zebra and the largest herds of Cape buffalo you may ever see, shadowed by lion, spotted hyena and leopard.
In the dry season, water is scarce, so animals are drawn to the Katuma, Kavu and Kapapa Rivers. The wide Chada floodplain is a mecca for wildlife with watering elephant, countless crocodiles, and hippos by the hundred – not just in the river, but grazing on the banks in pods. When the waters retreat hippo crowd into the remaining pools, crocodiles retire to caves in the mud walls of the riverbank, and buffalo and elephant are drawn to the rivers to drink. Wildlife connoisseurs can see sable, roan antelope and puku. The bird watching is also excellent, with over 400 recorded species. Katavi offers any jaded traveler,, who thinks the African bush can yield no more surprises, a thrill.
The game-viewing is unrestricted – you can follow any game, anywhere, for as long as you like, or stay absolutely still; decide to spend the night in a lightweight bushcamp, sleeping in a bedroll slung under borassus palms, or retreat to the relative civilization of the main camp, with canvas tents, colonial-style furniture and long, lazy dinners. Katavi is African game viewing as it used to be.
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