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Getting to Katavi National Park

Getting to Katavi National Park

It offers un-spoilt wildlife viewing in the country’s third-largest national park, in a remote location far off the beaten track. The national park is Africa at its most wild — unadulterated bush settings, spectacular views, and rich wildlife.

The wilderness of Katavi National Park, located in the western area of Tanzania, is one of the most untouched areas in the entire country.

Katavi’s dramatic scenery is as varied as it is pristine. Flood plains of thick reeds and dense waterways are home to a huge population of hippo and varied birdlife. In the woodlands to the west, forest canopies shroud herds of buffaloes and elephants. Seasonal lakes fill with dirty coloured water after the rains and animals from all corners of the park descend in them to drink. The park is also home to the rare roan and sable antelope species, and it is a must-see for the visitors intending to explore the wilds of the continent.

Isolated, untrammeled and seldom visited, Katavi is a true wilderness, providing the few intrepid souls who make it there with a thrilling taste of Africa as if it must have been a century ago.
Tanzania’s third largest national park; it lies in the remote area southwest of the country, within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates in the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa.

The bulk of Katavi supports a hypnotically featureless cover of tangled brachystegia woodland, home to substantial but elusive populations of the localised eland, sable and roan antelopes. Nevertheless the main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River and associated floodplains such as the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Chada. During the rainy season, these lush, marshy lakes are a haven for myriad water birds, and they also support Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippos and crocodiles.

It is during the dry season, when the floodwaters retreat, that Katavi truly comes into life. The Katuma, reduced to a shallow muddy trickle, forms the only source of drinking water for miles around, and the flanking floodplains support game concentrations that defy belief. An estimated 4,000 elephants might converge on the area, together with several herds of 1,000-plus buffalo, while an abundance of giraffes, zebras, impalas and reedbucks provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.

19 Days Tanzania Fully Cycle
11 Days Ruaha and Katavi

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 incident, with the vanquished male forced to lurk hapless on the open plains until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount another challenge.

Location; Southwest Tanzania, east of Lake Tanganyika.
The headquarters at Sitalike lie 40km (25 miles) south of Mpanda town.

The best way to get to Katavi is by a flight from Arusha. The only public, scheduled flight is the twice-weekly service between Ruaha, Katavi and Mahale operated by Safari Air Link.

Zantasair works with its sister company Mbali Mbali lodges, to offer twice-weekly shared charter flights between northern Tanzania and western Tanzania, incorporating Katavi and Mahale National Parks

Depending on your itinerary, your entry point to the country will either be Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), about 46km/29mi from Arusha, or Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam. In most cases, your tour operator will pick you up from the airport and make ongoing arrangements, including the charter flight to the park’s airstrip.

A tough but spectacular day’s drive from Mbeya (550 km/340 miles), or in the dry season only from Kigoma (390 km/240 miles).

It is possible to reach Mpanda by rail from Dar via Tabora, then to get public transport to Sitalike, where game drives can be arranged. If travelling overland, allow plenty of time to get there and back.

More about Tanzania Travel Guide:

Planning your trip? Whether you’re looking for things to do in Tanzania such as events and attractions, key traveller information to make your Tanzania visit run smoothly or are planning where to stay in Mwanza, you’ll find everything you need for your Tanzania holiday on Our Website. Tanzania Travel guide has the information about latest events not to miss while you visit Tanzania – there’s always something going on, so don’t miss out on the latest exhibitions, shows and more on your trip Tanzania

Discover the best day trips from Dar-es-salaam  or other Tanzania’s Cities. If you’re here as a family, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Tanzania with kids and find suitable accommodation such as Tanzania holiday apartments. Whether you’re looking for the best weekend breaks in Tanzania or planning a longer holiday in, you can be sure you’ll find all the information you need. 

Tanzania Travel Guide|  Climb Kilimanjaro and Meru | Beach Holidays in Zanzibar | Mwanza Travel Guide  |Dar-es-salaam Travel Guide  |Dodoma Travel Guide | Tanga Travel Guide | Mbeya Travel Guide | Arusha Travel Guide | Tanzania Safari and Tours | Africa Safari Forums | African Safari Questions and answers

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