Kati National Park offers unspoiled wildlife viewing in the country’s third-largest national park, in a remote location far off the beaten track. The national park is Africa at its most wild — unadulterated bush settings, spectacular views, and abundant wildlife.
The wilderness of Katavi National Park, located in the western area of Tanzania, is one of the only untouched regions in the entire country.
Katavi’s dramatic scenery is as varied as it is pristine. Floodplains of thick reeds and dense waterways are home to a vast population of hippo and diverse birdlife. In the woodlands to the west, forest canopies shroud herds of buffalo and elephants. Seasonal lakes fill with dirty colored water after the rains and animals from all corners of the park descend in them to drink. The park is also home to the rare Roan and Sable antelope species, and it is a must-see for the visitors intending to explore the wilds of the continent.
Isolated, untrammeled, and seldom visited, Katavi is a true wilderness, providing the few intrepid souls who make it there with a thrilling taste of Africa as if it must have been a century ago.
As Tanzania’s third largest national park, it lies in the remote area southwest of the country, within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates in the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa.
The bulk of Katavi supports a hypnotically featureless cover of tangled Brachystegia woodland, home to substantial but elusive populations of the localized Eland, Sable and roan antelope. Nevertheless, the main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River and associated floodplains such as the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Chada. During the rainy season, these lush, marshy lakes are a haven for myriad water birds, and they also support Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippos and crocodiles.
During the dry season when the floodwaters retreat is when Katavi truly comes into life. The Katuma, reduced to a shallow muddy trickle, forms the only source of drinking water for miles around, and the flanking floodplains support game concentrations that defy belief. An estimated 4,000 elephants might converge on the area, together with several herds of 1,000+ buffalo, while an abundance of giraffes, zebras, impalas, and reedbucks provide easy pickings for the numerous lion pride sand spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.
Its hippos provide Katavi’s most singular wildlife spectacle. Towards the end of the dry season, up to 200 individuals might flop together in any riverine pool of sufficient depth. And as more hippos gather in one place, male rivalry heats up – bloody territorial fights are an everyday incident, with the defeated male forced to lurk hapless on the open plains until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount another challenge.