Truly remote Katavi National Park is situated along the Rukwa Rift Basin in western Tanzania, 550 km (340 miles) from Mbeya and 1,250 (800 miles) from Dar es Salaam. First protected in 1911 and established in 1996, 471 km² (1,726 mile²) Katavi is Tanzania’s oldest national park. Animals are abundant, particularly along the seasonal Katuma River and lakes Katavi and Chada; visitors, however, are few. Found within this isolated wilderness are waterfalls, woodlands, shrublands, grasslands and seasonal river floodplains. Much of the park’s scape is weather-dependent—the wet season’s flowing Katuma River reduces to a mere stream in the dry season, when it beckons thirsty animals to sip at the area’s sole source of drinking water. Many species of medium to large mammal, including zebra, buffalo, impala, elephant, giraffe, lion and leopard, make their home in Katavi, and crocodile and hippo are known to wallow and snap in its seasonal rivers and lush marshes. Elephant, too, is plentiful.
Canoeing safaris, walking, driving and camping await those who visit this isolated park.
Travelers willing to make the long trek by vehicle, railway or chartered plane should visit during the dry season (between May and October); park roads often flood during the rainy season (October to April), which drops 930 mm (36.6 inches) on the area.