User Reviews – Katavi NP

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One of my favorite safari locations
Overall rating

I stayed at Chada Katavi for seven nights in August of last year. I have to say that Katavi offers one of the highest levels of bush vibe in Africa.
The wildlife viewing was simply outstanding. I've never seen bigger pods of hippos nor more crocodiles as well as massive herds of buffalo and topi. There were lots of elephants and they often came into camp. I saw lions and leopards.

I went fly camping for two nights and on one night drive. Fly camping was particularly enjoyable. My night drive was simply awesome. One can go for hours without seeing another person.

Overall rating

A great place, like Ruaha, with great wildlife viewing. Actualy fantastic lions viewing in some part of it (sorry i won t say exacly where) when I visited in october 2009. We also saw hyenas, elephants, lots of giraffes, large herds of buffalos, diferent species of antelopes, crocs, birdlife etc.

Isolated, untrammelled and seldom visited park
Overall rating

Katavi is a true wilderness, providing the few intrepid souls who make it there with a thrilling taste of Africa as it must have been a century ago.

Tanzania's third largest national park, it lies in the remote southwest of the country, within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates in the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa. Katavi’s most singular wildlife spectacle is provided by its hippos. Towards the end of the dry season, up to 200 individuals might flop together in any riverine pool of sufficient depth. And as more hippos gather in one place, so does male rivalry heat up – bloody territorial fights are an everyday occurrence, with the vanquished male forced to lurk hapless on the open plains until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount another challenge.

Overall rating

This park is amazing!! Easily one of my favourite parks. If you think Ruaha has a bush vibe, this one trumps it. We had lions lying within feet of the car window, giraffes showing up at our door at the bandas, hundreds upon hundreds of hippos crammed into small mud pools. We saw lions taking down hippos, a beautiful leopard at close range etc. Katavi is as remote as it gets! We spent 8 hours waiting under a mango tree for a bus out of Sitalike heading towards Namanyere! This place is remote and rugged and I highly recommend it for a solid adventure.

an incredible number of hippos and up close
Overall rating

Katavi is a wonderful Place of the World, with many Animals.
We drive in the Park in the dry Time, the Natur is then not so green, but the Animals are then watch masse. We look on the Game Drive Lions in the starting phase on the hunting, directly Elephant on the Road and masses of other Animals. The most impressiv experience was the many Hippos, the Hippos urge in the last Water in the Park.
I would return in any case again to Katavi.

Overall rating

Absolutely superb. Hardly anyone is there and you are completely at one with nature, it's peaceful and full of hundreds of animals!

Off the beaten track, kweli
Overall rating

There were many highlights of our week in Katavi, including a dramatic encounter between buffaloes and lionesses (which the buffaloes won) and a wonderful sighting of bee-eaters working as an extended family (parent birds plus previous year's adolescents) collecting insects on the edege of the flood plain. Perhaps the most evocative was sitting in camp beside a camp fire and realising that a herd of elephants was quietly walking past just a few yards behind us. We stayed with Fox safaris and spent a few days at Lazy Lagoon before transferring to Katavi. They managed the transfers well and the accommodation and food was superb. There were just two other guests in their camp and only 8 visitors in the entire park whilst we were there. So this felt like a real wilderness rather than a replicated experience.

Overall rating

A great off the beaten track destination far away from the tourist hubs, where you can immerse yourself in the local culture while still seeing all animals Tanzania is famous for, with barely seeing any other people while driving through the park.

Mpanda can be reached by train, as well as by bus. Although a small town, Mpanda has some local guesthouses, as well as some restaurants and bars.

A tip for Swahili speakers: try to arrange a local minibus (daladala) to take the day off and instead drive you through the park for a predetermined fee. This will most likely be a lot cheaper than the vehicles that can be rented in the park.

For the upscale tourist there is also a small airstrip in the park, serving a tiny luxurious guesthouse in the middle of the park.

For natural big animals, Katavi National Park is the best
Overall rating

Compared to other Tanzanian National parks exclude Ruaha and Ugalla Game Reserve, Katavi has got very big and attractive animals, actually, when you see them, you'll feel the presence of nature to these animals and how wonderful they are. For example, when you look to an Elephant, it looks huge and giant compared to elephants from another National parks.

Katavi lies on Rukwa or Western rift valley basin, from around the edges of the park there is gentle slopes with heavy natural forest and at the center of the park its plain grass land like 10km square (Estimate) and at the middle there is a beautiful lake known as lake Katavi and Chada where you can sit and enjoy nice view and animals. Therefore the scenery is beautiful.

Katavi is experiencing two seasons, wet season which starts from October to April/May (Hot season) and dry season which starts from May to September. Depends to what events would you like to see, for example if you want to enjoy lots of Hippopotamus and lion, visit lake katavi and Chada during dry season and for nice birds, baboons, giraffe, elephants and buffalo, visit during wet (rain) season.
In short, weather is nice and I haven't heard any problem about weather.

Starting from Mpanda Town which is near Katavi (40km), there is hotels, lodging and guest houses all of these differ in status and cost.
Inside Katavi National park, there is Hotels, guesthouse, bandas (kind of small houses with one room self contained) and Camping sites.

In Katavi there is variety of food, but also you still can take your own food provided that you don't feed to the animals like baboons and chimpanzee.

You can access to Katavi National Park by air, if you lodge a private flight, you can land at Mpanda Airport or direct to Katavi National park air strip or use public flight (eg Precission air) from Dar es salaam to Tabora and then catch train or bus to Mpanda from Tabora.

Using road, there is a main road connecting Mikumi, Ruaha and Katavi national parks via Mbeya, Sumbawanga to Katavi and Mpanda. This road at moment is gravel based though at moment there is construction of tarmac road from Mbeya to Katavi and Mpanda then to Kigoma. From Mbeya to Katavi, the road is good in all weather though in some places is a little bit terrible during wet season. From Kigoma to Mpanda, the road is accessible only during dry season untill when the construction of tarmac road is finish.

Alternatively you can catch train or bus from Tabora to Mpanda, or catch a bus from Sumbawanga to Katavi.

In short road transport is accessible and not bad but not reliable just like in other National parks until when the road construction will finish.

Tour and guidance in general is good because the administration is trying to attract more tourists to this place as it was not famous before compared to other National parks though it starts to emerge very quickly after many tourists discovered that Katavi has the best big and natural animals.

Therefore, to me, I recommend that if you want to enjoy for the best animals, go to Katavi National park, you'll feel it!

Overall rating

You don't truly understand the words "remote" and "vast" until you visit Katavi. We were the only visitors in a 10.000 square kilometer wilderness for several days and got a fantastic taste of primeval Africa.

Average User Rating

  • 4.4/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star 11
  • 4 star 5
  • 3 star 1
  • 2 star 1
  • 1 star 0
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