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Katavi National Park, 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 wildlife 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 wildlife-viewing is unrestricted – you can follow any animal, anywhere, for as long as you like, or stay absolutely still. Katavi is African game viewing as it used to be.

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: Cape buffalo, lion, puku, roan, sable
  • Where: Western Tanzania, Tanzania

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Tanzania’s Wild West

This itinerary takes you to two contrasting national parks in the remote reaches of Western Tanzania: the seldom visited Katavi, with its rich plains game and predators, and Mahale, possibly the best place in Africa to see chimps in the wild. There’s also ample time to relax on the idyllic shores of Lake Tanganyika.

  • When to go: Jun-Feb
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,995 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Chada Katavi Camp

The pioneers of this camp were the first to arrive in Katavi – some 20 years ago – at a time when virtually no-one had heard of it. Today, Chada Katavi lies hidden in the shade of acacia and tamarind trees, with just six spacious safari tents, raised on wooden platforms for panoramic views.