katavi national park Hippo pool

Katavi National Park

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Katavi National Park is a relat untouched wilderness. The park is located in the remote area southwest of Tanzania, in an arm of the Rift Valley and ends in the shallow of Lake Rukwa. It lies on a high flood plain surrounding Lake Katavi, south of the Mahale Mountains. The wilderness of Katavi is one of the most virgin areas in the country. Katavi is home to the largest herds of buffalo on the planet.

Katavi’s landscape

Katavi’s dramatic landscape is diverse and unique. It contains of flooded areas with thick reeds and dense waterways. And these waterways are home to a huge population of around 200 hippos, crocodiles and different bird life. In the forests to the west, tree tops cover herds of buffalo and elephant. Seasonal lakes fill with dirty colored water after the rains. As a result animals come here from every corner of the park to drink. These include the rare species of roan and sable antelope and a must-see for visitors looking to explore the continent’s wilderness during a private safari. Katavi national park offers excellent game viewing with a real wilderness atmosphere. And therefore fantastic opportunities to take photos!

Wildlife in Katavi National Park

This National park offers unspoilt wildlife viewing far off the beaten track! Several large herds of thousands of Cape Buffaloes, an estimated 4000 elephants live in the park. In addition an abundance of zebras, wildebeest, giraffes, eland, sable and roan antelopes can be found roaming in the park. Cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas, leopards, and lions watch them closely for an opportunity to hunt.

The hippos move together closely in any pool of sufficient depth towards the end of the dry season. However, this leads to fights between males during this time. As a result these territorial fights are an almost daily event!

Furthermore you can find a large variety of birds living around the shores of the rivers. In total 450 different species live in Katavi National Park.

Excursions and activities in Katavi National Park

Mahale national park is located near Katavi, along the shores of Lake Tanganyika, south of Kigoma. It is a famous destination to come face to face with the endangered chimpanzees. Definitely worth to combine it with your trip!

Travel time to Katavi National Park

The location makes the park difficult to accessible by jeep, so a flight is recommended and can be taken from different locations in the country.

Kigoma – Katavi: 5 hrs drive

Mbeya – Katavi: 9 hrs drive

Travel Tips from our experts about Katavi

My name is Michael and I am a guide at Katavi National Park for 12 years. Our guests are always impressed with the huge numbers elephants they can see here. But the hippos are the biggest attraction, especially when the water levels are low and the hippos are fighting for every inch left in the water holes! Some clients spend many hours taking pictures here.

How long to stay? At least 2 days

Which hotel? Katavi Wildlife Camp: It is located in the Katisunga plain. From your vantage point on the veranda of your tent or from the upper viewing lounge, you have a great view of the game and maybe even some hunting from predators!

Best time to visit Katavi

Katavi National Park can be visited all year round. During the months of June to October and December to February, the animals congregate around the remaining water holes and can be reached easily. During the rainy season, the extensive wetlands offer splendid scenery to adventurous visitors.

Information and facts

Katavi national park is a true wilderness, providing the few intrepid travellers who make it there with a thrilling taste of Tanzania as if it must have been a century ago. Home to the largest herds of buffalo on the planet, Katavi National Park is a relatively untouched paradise.

Most common animals

  • Hippos
  • Crocodiles
  • Cape Buffaloes
  • Elephants
  • Zebras
  • Wildebeest
  • Giraffes
  • Eland
  • Sable and roan antelopes
  • Cheetahs
  • Wild dogs
  • Hyenas
  • Leopards
  • Lions

Facts about Katavi National Park

  • Remote and untouched wilderness
  • Huge population of around 200 hippos
  • Herds thousands of buffalo and elephant
  • Seasonal lakes with hippos
  • Fantastic photographic opportunities

Katavi highlights

  • Area of 4,471 km²
  • Declared National Park in 1997
  • Derived from the name “Katabi”, a famous local hunter

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