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Katavi National Park | Tanzania National Parks

Katavi National Park | Tanzania National Parks

Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park is raw, remote and little known. The immense concentration of game, especially as the seasonal lakes disappear, will astound even hardened safari-goers.




Katavi NP, in the Rukwa Rift, was extended to its existing size of 4470km2 in 1998 making it the third largest park in Tanzania. Katavi’s landscape is dominated by 3 large floodplains strung together by the Katuma River which boasts one of the largest population of Hippo and Croc and provides a habitat for an abundance of water fowl. The savanna plains fill with huge herds during the day time and the equally impressive selection of predators wait patiently for their return to the woodland towards the end of the day.



Mammals and Birds

Katavi has similar wildlife to Ruaha, with an enviable selection of antelope including Topi, Roan and Sable often found in large herds. Predators include some of the most luxuriously maned lions to be found, leopard, and hunting dog. As the river dries up the hippo fight for space in the limited pools and the croc caves become visible along the bank, a fascinating sight. The greater Katavi area has 373 recorded species of bird.  The green season months will have additional migratory species.




Katavi is ancient Africa as one might imagine from days gone by; mountain ranges provide a backdrop to the low-lying seasonal lakes (Katisunga, Chada and Katavi), each one encircled by the evocative palms and scrub. The lakes, in reality open plains in the dry season and boggy marsh in the wet, are connected by the Katuma River , which support a refreshing belt of green, winding through the landscapes, and providing contrast to the drier areas around.


I booked my safari holiday through Serengeti trips. They were the most helpful company I have ever dealt with and I work within the travel industry. I had the most amazing time. The holiday went as clockwork with no hitches anywhere.

Daear William, Just to let you know we had a great adventure at Katavi  National Park. All went well. Saw chimps every day and lots of them on first and last day. 

When to Visit Tarangire National Park

Excellent time is: August, September and October and also you may visit in as well as.

For fair views you may visit in: July

However we do not recommend that you travel in November, December, January, February, March and April.

Katavi is a typical dry rural reserve. In the wet season which commences in November up to April, the wildlife scatters into the woodlands and it is really hard to see the wild animals.  During the wet season, the heat plus humidity is harsh. Once the rains are finished, River Katuma is reduced in size into a narrow water stream and the adjacent floodplains turn into an attraction for wildlife.

In Brief

  1. The best time to visit: August – October
  2. Peak Season: July – October (Katavi hardly experiences large crowds at any time)
  3. Low Season: April and May and during that time most lodges are closed
  4. Best Weather Conditions: June to October since there are less rain
  5. Worst Weather conditions: November to April since it is the wet season

Getting to Katavi National Park

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.

Activities on your Katavi Safari

  • Walking safaris

    Walking safari experiences involve treks with an armed ranger and bush camping. The walking safari route takes you along Lake Katavi, a seasonal floodplain where you can expect to see grazing hippos and crocodiles. For travellers who cannot walk long distances, game drives can be organised through your accommodation.



    Katavi is also a great destination for birdwatching, and it is home to over 400 bird species. Prices are around $59 per person at the time of writing, and there is an additional guided walking fee per group which is $23.60 for a short work or $29.50 for a longer one.


  • Visit historical sights

    Katavi National Park has an interesting history. You can visit the Kabora-Lyonga-slave route which passed through this area during the slave trade. Visitors can also view the famous tamarind tree which gave the park its name according to local tradition. In Katavi customs, the tree is the home of the famous hunter, Kataviwhom, and locals offer food to its roots to gain luck when hunting. 

Best Kilimanjaro airport transfers to Moshi

Where to Stay in Katavi National Park?

Safari buffs fall in love with this park very quickly, and for good reason. It is very wild and untouched, so as a result any experience here will be a magical one. The game is outstanding, especially buffalo and lion. All in all we think Katavi is Tanzania’s best kept secret. There are only a handfull of camps in Katavi, please see below some of our favourites.

Chada Camp

Chada is one of the most remote lodges we use in Tanzania, located in the Katavi National Park, one of the wildest game experiences in Tanzania. There are a handful of lodges in the park and this is by far the best property, run by Nomad Tanzania who are famous for their adventurous camps with some very good guiding and management.  A stay at Chada is often complimented with a stay in neighbouring Mahale National Park at the other famous Nomad property- Greystoke.


Katuma Lodge

Katuma Bush Lodge is ideal for the traveller looking for a truly remote experience away from regular tourist routes. In this park, you will find animals curious and unfamiliar to human contact. The flotillas of pelican are a special sight.  Game drives are offered twice a day with an optional night game drive.  

Katavi Wildlife Camp

Katavi only has a couple of accommodation options in the park and this is one of our favourites with a simply incredible view onto the plains. Owned and run by the Fox family, who have other properties in southern Tanzania this camp reflects what a classic safari camp should be like. 

Kilimanjaro Airport Taxi

Planning a Trip in Katavi National Park

Visitor Information — Further information about all parks is obtainable at; visit also the more dedicated sites and Gombe charges an entrance fee of $100 per 24 hours, the highest for any Tanzanian National Park, though this is applicable only to time spent in the forest, not to time spent in camp. The entrance fee for Mahale is $80 per 24 hours. Both parks charge an additional guide fee of $20 per party for chimpanzee tracking. Entrance to Katavi is set at $20 per 24 hours.

Katavi National Park FAQ

Katavi National Park is a Tanzanian national park that was established in 1974 and is located in Tanzania’s Katavi Region. This national park is a fantastic park to visit on a safari in Tanzania.

The best time to visit Tanzania for a safari is during the dry season from late June to October. Tanzania has two distinct rainy seasons: April to May (the ‘long rains’) and November to December (the ‘short rains’).

Depending with where in Africa, JANUARY TO MARCH/Great game viewing at cheaper prices. This is the dry season, so animals are easier to spot in the shorter grasses and around waterholes.

A 6-Day (5-Night) private safari in the national parks of Northern Tanzania can cost about $2600 (per person, per day). An 8-Day (7-Night) private safari in the Northern Circuit (including big five game drives and cultural tours) can cost around $3600 (per person, per day).

Plan on at least two weeks. That should allow for at least three different camps in different areas, for three nights each. Generally, you get an early morning game drive and a late afternoon game drive each day, so two full days in each camp almost guarantees that you’ll see a lot.

Depending on how many destinations you are planning to include in your itinerary, about 3 to 4 nights would be enough time at a safari camp. This would give you plenty of time to spot the wildlife on your bucket list, but also some time to enjoy the lodge.

Discover iconic Katavi National Park

Home to the largest herds of buffalo on the planet, Katavi National Park is a relatively untouched wilderness paradise, situated in the western area of Tanzania.The park boasts a wonderful array of habitats, which range from flood plains of thick reeds and dense waterways that teem with hippo and crocodile to woodlands, open grasslands, forests and pristine seasonal lakes.

Visitors to the area can seek out the legendary tamarind tree, which is said to house the spirit of a great huntsman named Katabi. Here, they can place an offering at the base of the tree in memory of this exceptional hunter.

Best Katavi Safari tours

2 Days Katavi National Park
4 Days Katavi National Park
5 Days Katavi National Park
Home to the largest herds of buffalo on the planet, Katavi National Park is a relatively untouched wilderness paradise, situated in the western area of Tanzania.