Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park is one of Tanzania's lesser-known and least visited parks, far off the primary tourist circuit, home to the largest herds of buffalo on the planet. This is Africa at its wildest.
Located in the far west of Tanzania, next to the Mahale Mountains, Katavi National Park is a relatively untouched safari paradise receiving only a handful of guests a year. Isolated, untrammelled and seldom visited, Katavi is a true wilderness, providing the few intrepid souls who travel here the experience of Africa as it must have been a century ago.
Offering one of the last genuinely wild safari experiences in Africa, Katavi has a fantastic array of habitats and boasts huge volumes of game; the vast congregations of various species set Katavi apart. There's a large population of resident elephants, and herds of buffalo often number in their thousands. It's equally famous for its enormous number of crocodiles and hippos too. Sightings become better towards the end of the dry season as the seasonal rivers almost completely dry up; hippos in their thousands cram dwindling pools, and crocodiles dig riverbank caves to protect themselves from the heat of the sun. Predators are well represented too, with healthy populations of lions, leopards and hyenas. By the end of the dry season, as water sources dwindle, high concentrations of game focus on the park's river banks. The sheer density combined with the complete sense of wilderness makes Katavi so unique and game viewing spectacular.
WHERE, WHEN, HOW
Katavi is a classic dry season park, with the game viewing getting progressively better towards the end of the year. July through to October is considered the best time of year to travel, with the highest concentrations of game around the plains and the park's only water supplies. November to March sees the game concentrations diminish, but the quality of birding becomes superb – and you are guaranteed a park entirely to yourself! Due to its remote location, travelling to Katavi comes with a price tag. By light aircraft, it takes four or five hours to reach here from Dar or Arusha, and with a recommended minimum three-night stay, Katavi is not a cheap destination. This is a park suited to safari aficionados, and as a result, camps are simple but high end; the focus is on the safari experience and less on sumptuous splendour.