Katavi National Park
It provides pristine animal watching in the third-largest national park in the nation, in a secluded area off the usual path. The national park showcases Africa at its most untamed, with untamed bush landscapes, breathtaking views, and an abundance of species. One of Tanzania’s most unspoiled regions is the wildness of Katavi National Park, which is situated in the country’s western region.
The majestic landscape of Katavi is as diverse as it is unspoiled. Huge populations of hippos and a variety of birds live in flood plains with numerous canals and thick reed growth. Elephant and buffalo herds are hidden by forest canopies in the woodlands to the west. After a rain, seasonal lakes fill with murky colored water, and animals from all across the park come to drink there. The park, which is a must-see for tourists planning to explore the continent’s wilderness, is also home to the endangered roan and sable antelope species.
Katavi, which is remote, unexplored, and little visited, is a true wilderness that offers those brave souls who do make it there an exhilarating taste of Africa as it may have been a century ago. It is the third-largest national park in Tanzania and is located in a remote region in the southwest of the nation, inside an arm of the Rift Valley that is cut off by the shallow, ominous Lake Rukwa.
The majority of Katavi is covered in a hypnotically featureless tangle of Brachystegia woods, which is home to sizable but elusive populations of the eland, sable, and roan antelopes that are specific to the area. However, the Katuma River and its accompanying floodplains, including the seasonally present Lakes Katavi and Chada, are the primary areas for wildlife watching in the park. These beautiful, marshy lakes offer a home for countless water birds during the rainy season and also host the highest densities of hippos and crocodiles in Tanzania.
Katavi actually comes to life during the dry season, when the floodwaters recede. For kilometers around, the Katuma has been reduced to a shallow, muddy trickle, and the surrounding floodplains support wildlife populations that defy belief. Numerous herds of 1,000 or more buffalo and an estimated 4,000 elephants may congregate nearby, while a profusion of giraffes, zebras, impalas, and reedbucks make easy prey for the many lion pride and spotted hyena clans whose territories congregate on the floodplains.
The most unique wildlife display in Katavi is supplied by its hippos. At the end of the dry season, 200 people could sprawl out together in any riverine pool with enough depth.
And when more hippos congregate in one area, male rivalry intensifies. Bloody territorial clashes occur frequently, with the defeated male left to sulk helplessly on the wide plains until it gains enough confidence to undertake an assault.
What to do
Safaris include driving, walking, and camping. Visit the tamarind tree beside Lake Katavi where the ghost of the fabled hunter Katabi, for whom the park is called, resides – Offerings are still left here by residents seeking the spirit’s blessing.