Katavi National Park lies in the remote south west of the country and it is the third largest park in Tanzania. The park covers an area of approximately 4471 sq. km and forms part of the Rift Valley system. It has the highest density of wildlife on the western circuit and it remains an unspoiled wilderness as only a few visitors venture to this park. It therefore offers exclusivity for those adventurous and keen explorers.
The landscape consists of open grassy plains interspersed with miombo woodland, acacia forests, small lakes and swampy wetlands. Game viewing within the Katavi National Park occurs mostly on and around the banks of the Katuma River and its flood plains including the seasonal lakes, Lake Katavi and Lake Chada. The lakes support the densest concentrations of hippo and crocodiles, highest number in Africa. It is home to a large number of waterbirds during the wet season. As the dry season moves towards October, it becomes a dry bush desert and the Katuma River dwindle to muddy trickle of water. This forms the only source of drinking water for miles around attracting largest concentration of game around. An estimation of 4000 elephants and herds of over 1000 buffalo arrive in the area. Hundreds of other games: zebra, giraffe, reedbuck and impala also move in and this is followed by lion herds, spotted hyena and other predators also moving in for easy pickings.
The mix of West and Southern African vegetation is home to some of the region's rarer mammals such as puku, sable and roan antelope, southern reedbuck, eland and defassa waterbuck. More than 400 species of bird are found here.
Best time to visit the Katavi National Park is in the dry season between May and October and December until February. Roads within the park are often flooded during the rainy season but may be passable from mid-December to February.
To get to Katavi there are charter flights from Dar or Arusha. A tough but spectacular day’s drive from Mbeya 550km, or in the dry season only from Kigoma 390km. It is possible to reach Mpanda by rail from Dar es salaam via Tabora, then to catch public transport to Sitalike, where game drives can be arranged. If traveling overland, allow plenty of time to get there and back.