|Size||4,471 km2 ( 1,727 mi2 )|
|Location||Southwest Tanzania, east of Lake Tanganyika. The headquarters at Sitalike lie 40km (25 miles) south of Mpanda town.|
|Getting There||Charter flights from Dar or Arusha. 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 catch public transport to Sitalike, where game drives can be arranged. If travelling overland, allow plenty of time to get there and back.|
Isolated, untrammelled and seldom visited, Katavi is a true wilderness, providing the few intrepid souls who make it there with a thrilling taste of Africa as it must have been a century ago. Tanzania's third largest national park, it lies in the remote southwest of the country, within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates in the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa.
During the rainy season, the lush and marshy Katavi and Chada lakes are a haven for a myriad of water birds, and they also support Tanzania's densest concentrations of hippo and crocodile. It is during the dry season, when the floodwaters retreat, that Katavi truly comes into its own. 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 giraffe, zebra, impala and reedbuck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.
Katavi's singular most incredible wildlife spectacle is its hippos. Towards the end of the dry season, up to 200 individuals might be seen together in any pool of sufficient depth. And as more hippos gather in one place, so does male rivalry heat up - violent territorial fights are an everyday occurrence, with the vanquished male forced to lurk haplessly on the open plains until it gains sufficient confidence to mount another challenge.