|Size||1,613 km2 ( 623 mi2 )|
|Location||Western Tanzania, bordering Lake Tanganyika.|
|Getting There||Charter flight from Arusha, Dar or Kigoma. Charter private or national park motorboat from Kigoma, three to four hours. Weekly steamer from Kigoma, seven hours, then hire a local fishing boat or arrange with park HQ for pickup in park boat, another one or two hours.|
Set deep in the heart of the African interior, inaccessible by road and only 100 km (60 miles) south of where Stanley uttered that immortal greeting "Doctor Livingstone, I presume", is a scene reminiscent of an Indian Ocean island beach idyll. Mahale Mountains is home to some of Africa's last remaining wild chimpanzees: a population of roughly 800 (only 60 individuals forming what is known as "M group"), habituated to human visitors by a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s.
Tracking the chimps of Mahale is a magical experience. And while chimpanzees are the star attraction, the slopes support a diverse forest fauna, including readily observed troops of red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, and a kaleidoscopic array of colourful forest birds. You can trace the local Tongwe people's ancient pilgrimage to the mountain spirits, hiking through the montane rainforest belt - home to an endemic race of Angola colobus monkey - to high grassy ridges chequered with alpine bamboo. Then bathe in the clear waters of the world's longest, second-deepest and least-polluted freshwater lake - harbouring an estimated 1,000 fish species - before returning as you came, by boat.
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.