Katavi National Park

Katavi is remote, undeveloped and bristling with wild animals. It's far from anywhere and anyone and is hard to beat for a pure wilderness safari. The park is exceptionally diverse in both flora and fauna and at its centre are several large flood plains and the narrow rivers that flow through them.

Size and situation: 4,471 sq km. Southwest Tanzania, east of Lake Tanganyika and miles from virtually everywhere else is Katavi National Park, Tanzania third largest park.

Landscapes: The Park has a central, very flat valley floor which forms spectacular flood plains after the rains, and attracts huge herds to its bounty from the surrounding hills.

The broad, blonde plain becomes a mass of tall flowing grasses at the height of the dry season, extending to distant mountains beyond.

Wildlife: Katavi is an incredibly exciting place and has a truly wild, almost primeval feel, which hits you intensely from the moment you first see the game scattered over the Katisunga flood plain. Herds of buffalo, two or three thousand strong graze on the plains, pods of several hundred hippo cram the seasonal rivers, herds of elephant feed on the plains and drink from the springs.

In addition to the buffalo, hippo and elephant, the park holds vast quantities of crocodiles, topi, giraffe, hartebeest, sable, roan, waterbuck and reedbuck and large populations of predators - lion, hyena, leopard. For some extraordinary reason it also seems to hold vast quantities of mice, especially around the edge of Chada flood plain.

The 400 plus species of birds reflect an intriguing balance between east and southern African species.

Activities: There's little or no infrastructure in the park and consequently a palpable feeling of freedom. Here one can explore the untouched wilderness, by foot at animal pace or off-road by 4wd, all day, discovering the most secret parts of the park, without seeing another soul.

Climate: Katavi has two seasons, a dry season from June to October and a rainy season from October / November to May.

The dry season in Katavi runs between early June and October with the first rains arriving towards the end of October. This has traditionally been viewed as the best time to go on safari as game is probably easiest to see. As the dry season progresses, Katavi becomes drier and hotter and the game more concentrated.

The early green season (December to February) can be a stunning time for a safari in Katavi. The park is incredibly verdant and game is visibly less stressed than at the end of the dry season.

Roads within the park are often flooded from February till May.

Katavi National Park Accommodations