Overview

The third largest national park in Tanzania is called Katavi National Park and it benefits from a wide and incredible range and concentration of wildlife. Lions, cheetahs, hippos, elephants, antelopes, warthogs, zebras, crocodiles, giraffes, leopards, wild cats vervet monkeys and hundreds of others can be spotted among the wilderness during the dry season at Katavi. The wet season, on the other hand, is ideal for bird watching, as well as admiring the extended plains of greenery and hundred of different species of colorful

African Leopard in Tree at night using flash shutterstock_85691164

Highlights

  • +Hippos
  • +Safari – camping, walking & driving
  • +Lake Katavi
  • +Impressive diversity and amount of wildlife
  • +Breathtaking views provided by flora and vegetation
Interested in visiting the Katavi National Park?
Take a look to our hand-picked tours that go there!

About Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park is the 3rd in size in Tanzania. Its wilderness, however, keeps the tourists at bay and not many are willing to brave the dangers that lack of civilization creates. The park is located in the southwest part of Tanzania and has a lot of fascinating, untouched wilderness, in both flora and fauna.

The vegetation in Katavi National Park is incredible and something that you can only admire here, in Tanzania. Swamps, woodlands, riverine and lake vegetation, grasslands, shrublands and others contribute to what is a beautiful and colorful puzzle of life. There are 226 species of trees, as well as shrubs, grasses flowers and herbs. Many of these will especially flourish during wet season, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly, if vegetation is what you are after.

Katavi’s state of wilderness ensures that its wildlife is among the richest and biggest in Tanzania (the second largest, to be exact). Large and medium mammals abound in the park, from giraffe (4,300) to elephant (2,700) to massive numbers of zebras (20,500) to hippos (4,000), impala (15,200), waterbuck (1,600), antelopes (7,000), warthogs (5,000), buffalo (15,500), but also hartebeest, topis, cheetah, duikers, crocodiles, hyenas, kudus, roan, caracal, reedbuck, lions, leopard, wild cat and dog in significant numbers.

Katavi National Park offers walking, driving and camping safari during dry season, for visitors who are interested in spending some time in the wild. Dry season is better for wildlife viewing, and animals can be easily spotted near watering holes. Wet season is perfect for bird watching and admiring the lush vegetation.

hippopotamus shutterstock_312831386
Baobab or boab, boaboa, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree , Katavi and Mkomazishutterstock_87808804
Cheetah family relaxes in Tanzania shutterstock_122297329
Baobab or boab, boaboa, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree T, Katavi and Mkomazshutterstock_100979056

Getting There

There are several options for transportation, in order to arrive at Katavi National Park. One of them is to take a charter flight from Arusha or Dar; both of them take around 3 hours.

Alternatively, transportation by rail is available from Dar to Tabora, with additional public transportation to Sitalike.

Driving is also possible, but the journey will take significantly longer (between 16 and 20 hours long). In addition, the drive is said to be difficult, but beautiful, nonetheless.

When to Go & Weather

  •   Best
  •   Good
  •   Fair
  •   Poor
  • May-October: this is the dry season, during which you can have the best chance to see the widest variety of wild animals possible. This is the best time for safari, whether walking or driving.
  • October-April: during wet season, you will not see as many animals, but you do have the opportunity to admire a bigger range of birds. Wet season is ideal for bird watching. However, note that the roads are flooded often during wet season.

You can visit Katavi National Park whenever you want during the year. However, please note that there are two seasons, wet and dry, and that game viewing is significantly better during dry season. Lake Katavi and Lake Chada become lakes during wet season, while in dry season, they are grasslands.

wild zebra standing in green grass field against beautiful dusky sky use for wild life and animals in africa safari wilderness  shutterstock_217319305

Additional Information

Safari FAQ

Safari experts provide answers to your queries. Everything you wanted to know as you plan that memorable vacation.

Packing List

Packing for Katavi National Park is akin to packing for any other safari trip. Check our posting on latest recommendations.

Safari Blog

One place to learn more about all things Safari travel. Check out Top Lists, read experiences, get tips.

History

The biodiversity of the Katavi ecosystem was protected in 1911, during the time of German colonial occupation. Afterward, as the British reign replaced the German occupation, the Katavi region was entitled Rukwa Game Reserve, until the year of 1932.

Only in 1974, the region was granted the title of National Park, given its amazing biodiversity and ecosystem. At that particular time, the park occupied a surface of 2253 square km. In 1996, a range of hunting areas was included in the protected area of the National Park, with the sole purpose of conservation. After this measure, the park’s surface was almost doubled – 4471 square km.

Katavi National Park was officially established and open for enthusiasts in the year of 1998, by the President of Tanzania at that time – William Benjamin Mkapa.

Wildlife & Flora

Katavi National Park encompasses a myriad of wildlife species. It is the essence of the amazing wildlife of Tanzania, being acknowledged as the second largest wildlife population in the country. In more exact terms, at least 50 species of mammals of all sizes dwell inside the premises of the park. Still, studies ought to be further developed to get acquainted with the multitude of species that may hide in the park and are nocturnal and invisible in daylight. Katavi National Park holds a lot of secret species that are yet to be discovered.

Prepare yourself to embrace the amazing wildlife Katavi National Park has to offer. The park encompasses quite a sizeable elephant population – 2700 animals. If it were to consider the population of elephants in the entire region of Katavi, the number would grow to 6500. The park also holds a wide range of herbivores species including bushbuck, hartebeest, eland, waterbuck, reedbuck, duikers, and other species. Certainly, the most attractive part of the Katavi National Park is the variety of predator species. You should know that the park holds at least 200 lions aged one year, and 750 hyenas of different species. And this is not all; the fauna diversity of Katavi National Park contains crocodiles, cheetahs, wild dogs, wild cats, and leopards.

It is needless to say that, regarding wildlife diversity, Katavi National Park will certainly amaze you and get you feel as if you’re walking through a TV show on The National Geographic.

Moving on to flora diversity, the Katavi National Park will not cease to amaze you. The colorful, mosaic-like combination of swamps, woodlands, grasslands, abundant, luxurious vegetation, crystal-clear lakes – all these create a spectacular view that is a marvel to the human eye. You’ll feel as if you’ve landed on a different world, and, in a way, that is true.

Ecology

Concerning the conservation of this beautiful, pristine region, TANAPA is a public institution that works in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. In 1959, it was initiated as a result of a Parliament decision to preserve the region’s amazing heritage regarding cultural and natural supplies. Their goal is to conserve the area, Katavi National Park included, so that the community members enjoy it while, at the same time, aiming to focus on conserving the resources for the next generations to come.

One of the main concerns is protecting the natural resources, as well as the establishment of educational programs that have the purpose to inform the community members regarding means of conserving and preserving the environment and biodiversity of the region. This aspect carries a lot of weight, as the community inhabitants are strongly connected with their lands.

Unfortunately, besides its great potential, Katavi National Park is not as popular as it should be, taking into account the myriad of wildlife and flora that are specific to the region. Its immense potential is granted by the amazing diversity of habitats, interwoven with the abundance of floral species. Nonetheless, in spite of these aspects, because of inappropriate infrastructure combined with a lack of support for the further development of scientific discoveries, research still needs to be conducted with the aim of discovering new and thrilling subjects concerning this attractive region.

Interesting Facts

  • Katavi National Park carries its name after the spirit of Wabende, generally acknowledged as Katabi. The spirit is married to another equally powerful spirit named Wamweru. The communities believe that this spirit lingers in the proximity of Lake Katabi, in a twin pair of Tamarindus indica trees. His wife – Wamweru, lingers on the other side of the lake, in the hills that carry her name. Even though the lake parts the two spirits, they are still able to communicate with each other.
  • A wide range of members from the present local communities worships their gods in this pristine, majestic region. At times, leopards can be glanced near the tree of Katabi. The Wabende tribe seems to assume that the powerful spirit of Katabi can take the form of an unusual animal, sometimes appearing as a deformed animal or a one-legged bird.
Interested in visiting the Katavi National Park?
Take a look to our hand-picked tours that go there!

Get safari advice & special deals!