Katavi lies in remote, southwest of Tanzania. It is isolated and untrammelled, providing the intrepid traveller with a true wilderness. The National Park extends across 4471 square kilometres of rugged hills, flat alluvial plains, marshes, lakes, and original miombo woodlands, all located within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley. The park is named after a legendary hunter, Katabi, whose spirit supposedly rests within a tamarind tree near Lake Katavi, locals seeking the spirit’s blessing leave offerings at the tree’s base.
Seasonal floodplains and lakes, such as Katavi and Chada provide a focal point for game viewing, however as dry season encroaches and water recedes the large herds of buffalo, elephant, zebra, impala, waterbuck and duiker are forced towards the Katuma River, the sole source of drinking water for kilometres around. These concentrations attract predators, including lion, leopard, wild dog, hyena and cheetah, seeking out their prey. The woodlands provide a haven for the more elusive eland, roan and sable antelope species – substantial in population, yet shy and rarely sighted. Katavi’s distinguishing wildlife spectacle, however, is water-based housing Tanzania’s densest crocodile and hippo populations. As the water decreases and riverine pools become shallower, hundreds of hippos literally burst out and their close proximity to each other results in heightened rivalry, manifested in bloody territorial fights. The returning rains replenish swamps, lakes, rivers, and incredible waterfalls, transforming Katavi once more into a flowering paradise with amazing avian diversity and a myriad of waterbirds.
Fly camping in the heart of Katavi’s untamed wilderness is a highlight not to be missed and the ideal way to end a day’s walking safari or game drive – sleeping under the African sky, starring at stars that seem infinite in number, fully immersed in the wild noises of the night – a thrilling taste of Africa.