The park is situated in Katavi Region, Tanzania. It was established in 1974 and is the third largest park in the country, but surprisingly one of the less visited park. The park covers approximately 4471sqkms. It has abundant water supply from River Katuma, which is the only source of water in the dry season, River Katavi, which is seasonal, and Lake Chada flood plains. The landscape is composed of waterfalls, grasslands, wetlands, miombo woodlands, and is also a home for a number of wildlife species, 400 bird species among other features. The park is known to have the largest herds of buffaloes in the world. The name of the park was named after a local great hunter Katabi.
How to access the Park
The park can be reached by railway, road and air transport.
Road transport: With this, you can use public or private means to get to the park, however it’s a long distance. You will need at least 2 days to reach the park from Dar es Salaam. It’s good adventure though.
Air transport: There several charter flight services from where you can book flights and connect to the park. From Dar es Salaam to Katavi, it will take you 3 hours. Fights are normally arranged twice in a week.
However, it’s less tiresome to arrange your safari with us to the park, ideally we recommend air transport.
What to carry
While on a safari in this park, you will be required to carry these items: a guide book, insect repellent, a backpack, preferably waterproofed, a rain jacket (preferably a light one), gloves will help you through the thick bushes, a hat, sunscreen, sun glasses, a pair of binoculars, light clothing, both pants and shirts, warm clothing for the cold nights, a mosquito net, a note book, drinking water, your favorite snacks, hiking shoes, a camera (come with spare charged batteries) among others. In case there some items you forgot to carry, no need to worry for they can be hired at a supplementary fee.
Things to do
These are normally arranged within the day that is from 7am to 6 pm. Along these drives you will be able to see wildlife up close. In the dry season when animals can easily be spotted, you will even be able to see wildlife before you come close to it. You will be driven to different ends of the park in search for these creatures. Await to meet birds too and take a chance to enjoy the great scenery in the park. The main ground to view wildlife in the park is Katuma River. Wild animals I the park visit this river which is almost the only water supply. You will enjoy seeing leopards, elephants, crocodiles, cape buffaloes, wild dogs, cheetahs, hyenas, among other animals.
The park is a home to beautiful flying creatures. More of these visit the park and the whole activity just gets exciting with a variety of beautiful birds to see. Await to see most of the unique birds in Africa and Europe. The likes of African fish eagles, flycatchers, saddle billied stork, lilac breasted rollers, kingfishers, sunbirds, among others won’t be missed. Guides will lead you to the best bird watching spots. Also you may visit the park in the early wet season.
The park is a perfect ground to enjoy this activity. If you’re interested to enjoy this activity, you can come along with your camping equipment, in the park there facilities like bathrooms, and toilets to enjoy this absolute wilderness.
Guided nature walks
The feeling of being in the wilderness is better felt while on foot, as you walk through grass, trees, to the other side of the park as you meet u wildlife, and birds in the area. Create sometime and explore the park through the available trails to the different parts of the park. You will enjoy the features you will find and also come across unique plant species. A guide will be with you to give details and protection.
Visit historical places
The park possesses Stone Age sites of the 19th Century, towns like Kabora, and Lyonga slave trade routes of that time. You will visit these sites and have a reflection of what happened then. There’s also cultural diversity and if you’re interested in knowing different cultures, organize and visit the park.
Visit Tamarind tree
Take an opportunity and visit the famous tree. It’s believed to possess the spirit of Katabi, a famous hunter whom the park was named after. Locals constantly visit the tree to ask for favors and for success in their endeavors especially hunting. You will enjoy this cultural visit for there’s a lot that will be shared about their history and beliefs.
When to visit the park
The park can be visited all the time in the year but best time to visit the park is after the rains, which is in January and February, and from June to August when there’s still abundant water in the plains. Wildlife will be seen in the park during this time. The period from March to April should be avoided for it’s the peak of the constant rains. However, both seasons come with positives and negatives.
Dry Season (May to October)
During this season, rains are rare and the sun dominates most of the days. The grasslands in the park are short and trees aren’t so thick. The period from June to August registers a lot of animals that can be seen along the game drives. The grass is short and trees are not so think, thus wildlife can easily be spotted.
The trails in the park dry and are passable during this season.
Mosquitoes are rare since there’s hardly any rain, and thus visitors are at a low risk of getting malaria.
It doesn’t get so hot and humid.
Sometimes it’s very dry and dusty.
It should be noted however that, weather can change any time. So visitors are advised to be equipped with rain coats.
Wet Season (November to April)
The season is composed of short, long and sometimes heavy rains. The best scenery in the park is during this time. The park is all green, with flowers.
The season registers the peak season of bird watching when migratory birds visit the park.
The park has few visitors and during this period, prices for tickets and accommodation are discounted.
However, since the park has few visitors, during this season most accommodation places close down.
The roads are in a poor state and during this season, they tend to be slippery and trails are always muddy and challenging to penetrate.
Wildlife viewing in this season is hard. Most of the animals disappear into the woodlands.
Mosquitoes and other insects are present and there are high chances that you can get malaria and the park tends to be hot and humid
From March to April, it’s very wet.
The park is a home for wildlife species. These are best viewed on game drives in the park and also once you visit the shores of Lake Katuma. Animals frequent the water source to quench their thirst. The kasitunga plains is also another location in the where animals can be viewed. As you enjoy other activities in the park you won’t miss views of these creatures. The likes of wildebeests, elephants, Cape buffaloes, giraffes, hippopotami, crocodiles, wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards, zebras, hartebeests, waterbucks, lions and hyenas, among others will be seen. The park is believed to have the biggest number of buffaloes in the whole world.
Flying creatures also have a home in the park. The park has 400 bird species which you will be able to see if you concentrate on the activity. There are birds that have a home in the park an also migratory birds which visit the park in the early stages of the wet season, that is December and January, registers most of the birds in the park. With the use of binoculars, you will have clear views of the likes of crested cranes, open-billied and saddle-billied stork, African fish eagle, pennant winged nightjars, pink backed pelicans, and fly-catcher, among others
This is one of the cultural and historical places to visit in this park. This tree is believed to possess the spirit of a great hunter Katabi, whom the park was named after. Many locals believe that the spirit of the renowned hunter lives on and constantly visit the tree to get blessing, fortune and favor. Take a chance a visit this tree to know more about their cultural values.
The park has limited accommodation within the park, and a few basic outside the park. Accommodation within the park is in form of campsites, with basic tents and facilities, and these include: Chada, that lies on the Chada Plain, Katuma Bush Lodge, located on the Katuma Plain, and the Foxes campsite. These camps can accommodate at least 12 people. However there also seasonal camps.