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Katavi National Park


4471 km² (1,726mi²)


1974 (National Park)

Best time to visit

June to October

A remote fly-in destination

Katavi National Park’s remoteness is its attraction. Unhabituated to visitors, the game reacts naturally and with a sense of wariness. The wildlife numbers are extraordinary. Katavi, Tanzania’s third largest park, is bordered by several large game reserves. During the dry season, the river attracts vast numbers of wildlife from this enormous wilderness. Consequently, you can see huge herds of buffalo, elephants, hippos, and numerous predators on game drives. As a fly-in destination with few visitors, it offers a rare secluded experience in today’s bustling world. An older Africa awaits. Experience it before it changes.

Katavi National Park

An untouched wildlife paradise

Katavi National Park is the third largest park in Tanzania. It is also by far one of the least visited in the country, making it a truly untouched wildlife paradise. It is located in the west of Tanzania and is quite hard to access by road, so the easiest way in and out is by charter flights.

The park is primarily fed by the Katuma River which in the rainy season – April and May – transforms the park into a wetland. Lake Chada and Lake Katavi are both seasonal lakes which are situated within the park boundaries. In terms of vegetation the park hosts a varied mix of bush land, Miombo forests, riverine forests as well as grasslands.


For those lucky enough to visit Katavi, the dry season – June to October – is by far the best time to see animals.

The Katuma River is one of the only sources of water in the dry season and is the lifeline for creatures both large and small when they congregate along the river to drink and bath.

Then, when the last lakes and swamps are drying, up to a thousand hippos at times would huddle together for that last bit of water. Large crocodiles can be seen basking in the sun or in the remaining mud pools.

The Katisunga plains in the heart of the park attracts large numbers of wildlife and it is one of the few parks where visitors can catch a glimpse of both the roan and sable antelope in the same place. Other animals grazing here are zebra, hartebeest, eland, giraffe and defassa waterbuck.

Katavi is also one of the last parks that boasts massive herds of buffalo; some herds easily reaching a thousand animals or more. A healthy population of roughly 3000 elephants also reside in the park.

Predators such as cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, and servals are also present in the area and the resident prides of lions are always around looking for their next meal. Leopards also call Katavi home.

With over 400 species of birds, Katavi is a great place for birdwatchers. Large flocks of storks like saddle bills, open-billed and spoon bills as well as African fish eagles, Bateleurs, lilac breasted rollers, crested barbets and paradise flycatchers are but a few on the long list of birds in Katavi.

Katavi National Park

Hippo pools & crocodile caves

As the marshland, rivers, and lakes slowly dry up during the dry season, an incredible phenomenon occurs. One of the largest populations of hippos and crocodiles is forced to congregate in muddy hippo pools and crocodile caves.

outdoor lovers

Few visitors, lots of wildlife

A remote fly-in destination, Katavi National Park receives few visitors, creating an old-world destination with the possibility to view vast numbers of wildlife. In today’s world, Katavi offers a rare and exclusive opportunity.


200 lions reside in the park

Lion populations have declined by 43% across Africa, become extinct in 15 African countries, and were declared vulnerable in 1996. Thankfully, Katavi National Park is home to a vital population of 200 lions.

Game drive with Foxes Safari in Katavi National Park

You can go on game drives in an open vehicle with camps such as Foxes Safari Camps.

Giraffe at Chada Katavi Camp

Camps like the Chada Safari Camp are unfenced - an authentic safari experience awaits.

Mbali Mbali Camp lounge elephant herd

At Mbali Mbali Camp you can enjoy a sofa safari.

Foxes Katavi Wildlife Camp at night

Share stories around the campfire at Foxes Katavi Wildlife Camp.


Best time to go to Katavi National Park

The best time to visit Katavi National Park is the dry season from June to October. In this period, you can see vast numbers of wildlife that congregate along the Katuma River. Enormous populations of hippo, crocodile, buffalo, elephant, and antelopes can be seen here. All of which guarantees superb predator action.

dry season

Dry Season

June to October, December to February

Ideal for amazing game-viewing in the park

rainy season

Green Season

November, April and May

Game viewing is more difficult as wildlife moves away from the river

Why to go

A remote and old-world experience

Katavi is a hidden gem in a sometimes busy safari world. You can visit during the peak season, yet feel very much on your own. And that’s not because wildlife viewing is not exceptional – it’s just because it’s so remote, making it more pricey to get here. But if you are looking for a secluded safari experience to immerse yourself fully in the rhythm of one of Africa’s remaining wilderness areas, you will get more for your money than you might have ever imagined. You may only go to Katavi once in your life – make it count.

Chada Katavi Camp savanna
Sunset in Katavi National Park
You were found on the internet and although Tanzania-Experience is not the cheapest you are real value for money. All pre-trip communication went smooth with quick responses and valuable feedback. We ended up with a tailor-made arrangement that showed to be a great success. Everything went according to schedule in Tanzania with not a single delay and your assistance and preparations were above expectations.
Cilje & Ole | Norway

Experience Katavi National Park

Game drive vehicle in Katavi National Park
Game Drives

Enjoy game watching and bird watching on game drives.

Things to do

A destination for safari enthusiasts

Exciting safari adventures and wildlife sightings are the focus of a visit to Katavi National Park.

Elephant herd near Mbali Mbali Camp

A welcome sight on any safari.

Sable antelopes near Chada Katavi Camp
Sable Antelope

You can see the rare Sable Antelope in Katavi National Park.

Hippo pool Katavi National Park

During the dry season, hippos congregate in muddy hippo pools.

Crocodile cave Katavi National Park

Waiting for the rains – crocodiles persisting in caves during the dry season.


Exceptional numbers of wildlife

Katavi National Park, Tanzania’s third largest park, and borders several huge game reserves. During the dry-season, immense numbers of wildlife are drawn from this vast area of miombo woodlands and open-plains (1.2 million hectares) to congregate along the Katuma River. Consequently, wildlife numbers are staggering here. The rivers, plus Lake Chada and Lake Katavi make the park famous for its high-density hippo-pools and crocodile-caves.

Where to stay in Katavi National Park

Mbali Mbali Katavi Lodge

Mbali Mbali Katavi Lodge

Chada Safari Camp Nomad Tanzania

Chada Safari Camp

Katavi Wildlife Camp by Foxes

Katavi Wildlife Camp


Katavi National Park is located in Western Tanzania, close to but not bordering Lake Tanganyika. Alongside the Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains National Parks, it is off the beaten track and not easily reached by road from most major towns. Instead, the few tourists who do venture to Katavi choose fly-in options by scheduled or chartered flights from Arusha.

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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