Katavi National Park Tanzania

Katavi National Park Tanzania

Katavi National park is the third largest park in Tanzania. It is also by far one of the least visited in the country, making it a truly untouched wildlife paradise. It is located in the west of Tanzania and is quite hard to access by road, so the easiest way in and out is by charter flights.
The park is primarily fed by the Katuma River which in the rainy season – April and May – transforms the park into a wetland. Lake Chada and Lake Katavi are both seasonal lakes that are situated within the park boundaries. In terms of vegetation, the park hosts a varied mix of bushland, Miombo forests, riverine forests as well as grasslands.

For those lucky enough to visit Katavi, the dry season – June to October – is by far the best time to see animals. The Katuma River is one of the only sources of water in the dry season and is the lifeline for creatures both large and small when they congregate along the river to drink and bath. Then, when the last lakes and swamps are drying, up to a thousand hippos at times would huddle together for that last bit of water. Large crocodiles can be seen basking in the sun or in the remaining mud pools.

The Katisunga plains in the heart of the park attract large numbers of wildlife and it is one of the few parks where visitors can catch a glimpse of both the roan and sable antelope in the same place. Other animals grazing here is zebra, hartebeest, eland, giraffe, and Defassa waterbuck. Katavi is also one of the last parks that boast massive herds of buffalo; some herd’s easily reaching a thousand animals or more. A healthy population of roughly 3000 elephants also reside in the park. Predators such as cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, and servals are also present in the area and the resident pride of lions is always around looking for their next meal. Leopards also call Katavi home.

With over 400 species of birds, Katavi is a great place for birdwatchers. Large flocks of storks like saddle bills, open-billed and spoonbills as well as African fish eagles, Bateleur, lilac-breasted rollers, crested barbets, and paradise flycatchers are but a few on the long list of birds in Katavi.

Size of Katavi National Park Tanzania

Situated in western Tanzania, and covering 4471 sq km, Katavi National Park was created in 1974 and is well known for its size, remoteness, and beauty. Drained by Lake Rukwa, it is watered by Katuma River, and it is on this river that both lakes Katavi and Chada rely on.

Location of Katavi National Park Tanzania

Katavi National Park is a Tanzanian national park created in 1974 and is located in Katavi Region, Tanzania. It is a very remote park that is less frequently visited than other Tanzanian national parks.

How to get to Katavi National Park Tanzania

The best way to get to Katavi is by a flight from Arusha. The only public, the scheduled flight is the twice-weekly service between Ruaha, Katavi, and Mahale operated by Safari Air Link.

Zantasair works with its sister company Mbali Mbali lodges, to offer twice-weekly shared charter flights between northern Tanzania and western Tanzania, incorporating Katavi and Mahale National Parks.

There are several routes you can drive to get to Katavi. By road from Dar es Salaam-Mbeya: Drive to Mbeya in one day, then head to Sumbawanga and Sitalike-Katavi National Park. Take the adventurous route and come by car from Arusha-Tabora: via Babati, Singida, Nzega, and Tabora.

Things to do in Katavi National Park Tanzania

Game viewing

The main activity, of course, is game viewing, which can be done on both game drives and guided walking safaris. The bonus of game drives in Katavi National Park is that you’re unlikely to come across any other humans.

Walking safaris

Walking safaris are an experience not to be missed to really get up close to the African bush, its sights, sounds, and aromas.

Fly camping

Fly camping is offered. This is the definition of bush camping, where normal tents (don’t expect luxury!) are set up in the bush at a temporary campsite. No fences, no flush toilets or showers. It’s living in the wild; cooking food over a fire and spending evenings chatting around the campfire, staring up at the breath-taking African night sky, and listening to the nocturnal calls of wild animals.

Cultural excursions

There are a number of places of cultural and historical interest in Katavi. These include Stone and Iron Age sites and sacred sites such as the Katabi Tree, where the Wabendespirit, Katabi, lives.

When to visit Katavi National Park Tanzania

Katavi National Park offers great game viewing all year round but reaches its peak during the dry season from June to November or December when the animals gather in their thousands around scarce water sources.

During the wet season, the floodplains turn to lakes and offer spectacular bird watching opportunities.

Where to stay in Katavi national park Tanzania

Katavi Wildlife Camp

Katavi Wildlife Camp is one of a handful of camps in the remote Katavi National Park in Tanzania, offering an uncrowded and spectacular African safari. Unobtrusively built amongst the trees on the edge of the Katisunga floodplains, the small and simple yet stylish tented camp offers incredible views. During the wet season, the plain fills with water, and the birdlife is spectacular. During the dry season, expansive herds of the game can be seen making their way to the permanent water source nearby.

Mbali mbali Katavi lodge

In the center of Katavi National Park lies Mbali Mbali Katavi offering an exciting bush experience with breathtaking views over the vast plains of Katisunga.


Wildlife viewing in Katavi national park
Walking safaris in Katavi national park
Cultural excursions in Katavi NP
Walking safaris in Arusha national park
Birding safaris in Katavi national park


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