Katavi national park is an isolated protected area that is located in the southwestern part of Tanzania about 50km east of Lake Tanganyika in Mpanda district, Rukwa region. The national park was gazetted in 1974 and covers an area of 4,471 square kilometers which makes it the third largest national park in the country after Ruaha and Serengeti national park. Katavi national park has an altitude ranging from 820m to 1560m above the sea level and is known for its wildlife including 50 mammal species such as the African elephants, hippos, zebras, impala, giraffes, reedbucks, waterbucks, topi, greater kudu, eland, duikers, warthogs, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, wild dogs, serval cats, primates like monkeys, baboons, bush babies, reptiles like the crocodiles, monitor lizards and bird species which include green pigeon, snake eagle, saddle billed stork, Senegal plover, knob billed duck, grey heron, open billed stork, ostrich, grey crowned crane among others.

Katavi national park harbors various attractions including animals, primates, reptiles, birds, vegetation types, Katuma River which harbors hippos, crocodiles and attracts large concentration of animals during the dry season, Lake Katavi, Katsunga plain which forms the heart of the park with a river that cuts in the middle, lakes and seasonal pools, tamarind tree which is also known as the tree of the spirit Katabi where you will be able to learn about the culture and history of the local people living around the national park.

Top things to do in Katavi national park

Game drives

Katavi national park is the best destination to visit in that is has a wide range of wildlife which can be viewed during the game drives in the Miombo woodland, wide flood plains, waist high grass and the seasonal rivers like Katuma River which are great destinations for game viewing especially during the dry season. Katavi national park is a magnificent destination with abundant animals which can be viewed during the game drive and they include giraffes, elephants, waterbucks, spotted hyenas, lions, topi, impala, buffaloes, hartebeest, zebras, reedbuck, hippos, crocodiles, water birds among others. The game drive can either be done during the day at around 6:30 am on a self-drive or guided drive or at night at around 8:00pm with a park ranger in an open vehicle with spotlight torches to view nocturnal animals such as lions, leopards, bush babies and other animals that you will have missed during the day hence giving interesting and memorable experiences on your safari.

Nature walk/hiking

This is an adventurous and exciting activity in Katavi national park where visitors get an opportunity to explore the park on foot. nature walk in the park is done with a park ranger and the activity starts with a briefing at the park headquarters where after you will start trekking following various trails in the park such as trails to Lake Katavi, Chorangwa hiking trail which gives you great views of Chorangwa, Lukima and Ndidi waterfalls, Sitalike trail among others. During the nature walk you will have spectacular views of the scenery, landscape, animals, birds as well as breathe fresh air and feel the cool breeze.

 Bird watching

Katavi national park is one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania harboring over 450 bird species including forest birds, water birds, migratory birds among others. Birding in Katavi national park is done along Lake Katavi and River Katuma and its best done during the rainy season. on your birding safari you can look out for bird species such as the paradise flycatcher, red billed hornbill, open billed stork, yellow throated sand grouse, fish eagle, pink backed pelican, white backed vulture, crested barbet, little bee-eater, goliath heron, cuckoo hawk, crowned plover, cattle egret, whistling duck, wattled plover, spur winged goose, little sparrow hawk, night heron, brown snake eagle, black kite, black headed heron, broad billed roller, bare faced go-away bird among others.

Best time to visit Katavi national park

Katava national park can be visited any time throughout the year though the best period is during the dry season on the months of June to October. During the dry season there is less rainfall in the park therefore there will be short grass which gives you clear viewing of the animals and Katuma River will reduce to a narrow stream hence attracting big numbers of animals which come to drink water.

Katavi can also be visited in the rainy season during the months of November to April in that during this time there will be a wide range of bird species hence favoring the bird lovers.

Where to stay on your safari in Katavi national park

There are a number of accommodations in Katavi national park where you can stay and they range from luxury, midrange, budget and camping sites. The lodges in the park include Nomad Tented Camp, Katavi Wildlife Camp, Chada Camp, Mbali Mbali Katavi Lodge, Chada Fly Camping, Katuma Bush Lodge, Palahala Luxury Camp and Campsites for example Ikuu public campsite, Chada special campsite, Kapimbye special campsite, Kapilula special campsite HQ public campsite, Katavi picnic site among others. The lodges offer services and facilities like comfortable beds, en-suite bathrooms, verandas, library, outside fire pit, well stocked bar, restaurant, laundry services though the campsites usually don’t have most of the facilities.

How to get to Katavi national park

When getting to Katavi national park you will first check for airlines which fly to Kilimajaro international airport in Arusha or Julius Nyerere international airport in Dar es Salaam because these are the entry routes to Tanzania. Checking for airlines can be done on sky scanner or Expedia. After arrival at the airport you will connect to the park by use of domestic flights such as Precision Air, Zan Air, Regional Air, Air Tanzania, Safari Air Link or Coastal Aviation. Domestic airlines normally operate charter flights to Katavi national park and they can be booked through a tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris.

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