Katavi National Park in Tanzania
This remote park is off the beaten path in Tanzania, and you may find yourself being one of the few who ventured there, but you will not be disappointed. In fact, much of Katavi’s appeal is that it is rarely (if ever) busy, which affords its few visitors exclusive viewings of the very reach wildlife and birds. Large roaming herds of elephant and buffalo, lions fighting over a kill or a leopard posing for the perfect picture – visited at the right time, Katavi offers an amazing African safari.
Best Time to Go
June – September
Average Safari Cost
Large populations of lion, elephant, buffalo and hippo. Hippos gather in large pods from June to October. Lions could be seen making a kill around the waterholes. Over 400 species of birds.
Why Visit Katavi National Park
Dusty floodplains transform into shallow lakes and verdant marshes after the rains, turning the remote Katavi into a beautiful oasis. Although less spectacular, the dusty plains, grasslands and woodlands also offer better wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities.
Lions prowl along without a care, and once the river dries up, hippos fight for the limited space in the small pools. Buffalos roam in large herds and can often be seen with elephants and other large mammals, as they gather around Lake Katavi and Lake Chada.
Birdwatching is also exceptional in Katavi. There are over 400 recorded species, including many raptors such as the Fish Eagle and the White-backed Vulture. The dry season is not particularly good for spotting birds here, but many water-associated birds can be found along the rivers all-year round.
Pros and Cons
- Wildlife viewing is great from June to October
- Rare antelope species
- Abundance of hippos can be seen during the dry season
- Rarely crowded, even in the high season (July – October)
- Over 400 recorded bird species
- The park can only be reached by plane
- Due to poor road conditions (muddy and flooded), many lodges and camps are closed from March to May.
Best Time to Go
Katavi has a year-long hot climate, with a continuous wet season from November to April, and a dry season from May to October.
The best time to visit Katavi is from June to September. While the park is open throughout the year, the dry season will be the best time to spot wildlife as vegetation will be thinner. It is also not a good idea to visit during November to April, as most camps will be closed due to bad road conditions.
For more information when to visit see our
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Popular Tours in Tanzania
6 Days Migration Safari
Tanzania is regarded as one of the big countries in East Africa and terms of size and this has come having many and big national parks and reserves. The most common and famous ones are in the Northern part which includes Serengeti National park known for the great wildebeest migration, Ngorongoro national park and its crater lake as well as Lake Manyara National Park. This is what makes this safari the best and Tanzania and most preferred by millions on people who visit these parks. It is important to note this safari is available any day as long as 2 or more are booked ex Arusha with free return airport transfers.
The Greatest Show On Earth – The Great Migration
The earth trembles with the thundering of a million hooves, as the heaving herds fill the plains to chase the rains in the epic annual struggle for survival, known as the Great Migration. The journey is beset with many deadly dangers, as young calves are snatched by predators, the slow are brought down by prides of lion, brave beasts break legs on steep river slopes, crocodiles take their share from the stragglers and the weak and exhausted drown. Every year and estimated 1.5 million wildebeest and 200 000 zebra complete the 1800 mile circuit from the Ngongorogoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, through the Serengeti, across the border into the Kenya and the Maasai Mara and back again. It is the greatest show on earth, a natural spectacle like no other and a life changing experience. At Moonlight Tours we aim to ensure you have front-row seats away from the crowds to this spectacular event. Our camps are created with the purpose of highlighting the migration – you can choose to stay at one of our permanent camps which are situated close to the river crossings, or stay in one of our seasonal camps that move a few times during the year to follow the migration and all the action. The Moonlight Tours experience When you choose to experience the Great Migration with , you can expect to be transported to the best seat in the house. We offer different ways of viewing the migration – Our guides take you as close to the action as possible, or you can enjoy sundowners or even a morning tea and coffee at your camp whilst watching the herds slowly making their way past you. We would love to have you come and stay at any one of our camps and experience this spectacle which has been dubbed as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” first-hand with us! Browse through our camps which offer a front row seat to all the action or make an enquiry directly with us and we will put you in touch with a trusted tour operator who will help you find the perfect camp to stay at in order to take full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
10 Days Kenya Tanzania Safari
This safari will give you a chance to visit the major game parks and reserves both in Kenya and Tanzania with each of them giving a different experience from the other. Maasai Mara and serengeti will give an opporunity to experience the savannah, the Big five and a beutiful wild nature feeling, Nakuru will be able to sight the rhinos, lake and different bird species, amboseli will offer he BEST views for Mt. Kilimanjaro while Ngorongoro is the most scenic unique park that you must visit. The combination of all is perfect for a great Africa safari experience.
3 Day 2 Nights Fly- Safari to Ngorongoro Crater
Tour three of the most spectacular and varied wildlife areas in Northern Circuit of Tanzania, See beautiful scenery of Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park popular of its big herds of Elephants. You will also have the opportunity to visit the local market in Mto wa Mbu a colourful cultural experience.
Wildlife and Birds
- Wild Dog
Lions are very common in Katavi and the vast numbers of buffalo and hippo are a spectacular and a very rare sight outside the park. During the dry season (June to September), the water sources dry up and large pods of hippos are forced to squeeze into small pools. While Katavi doesn’t have many rare or unusual animals, the sable antelope can occasionally be spotted in the miombo woodland, and the other wildlife all roam in large numbers.
- Wildebeest, cheetah, wild dog
Infrequently Seen Animals
- Leopard, hyena, sable antelope
Frequently Seen Animals
- Elephant, giraffe, hippo, buffalo, zebra, lion, impala, waterbuck, crocodile
With over 400 recorded species, bird watching is fantastic in Katavi. Raptors, herons, spoonbills and various subspecies of stork are commonly seen. The best time for bird watching is between November and April, when the migratory birds are present.
For a complete list of endangered birds in Tanzania see our Tanzania Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Endemic and Near Endenic Birds
- African Fish Eagle, African Golden Oriole, African Paradise Flycatcher, African Spoonbill, Bateleur, Black Cuckoo-Shrike, Lilac-breasted Roller, Little Bee-eater, Pink-backed Pelican, Red-billed Hornbill, Saddle-billed Stork, Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike, White-backed Vulture, Yellow-billed Stork, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse
Getting There and Safety
You will either enter the country through Kilimanjaro International Airport outside of Arusha, or Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. Your entry point depends entirely on your itinerary.
A flight from Arusha is the best way to reach Katavi. Your best option would be to use Nomad Safaris, which runs a scheduled air service from Katavi or Mahale to Arusha. There are also bi-weekly scheduled flights with Safari Air Link, that flies between Mahale, Katavi and Ruaha.
For the flights to Tanzania, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you there and compare various ticket prices.
If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Tanzania.
If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Tanzania.
For more information on visas see our Tanzania Safari - Complete Country Guide.
Speak to your doctor or travel clinic regarding malaria preventative medication appropriate for the region. Using a good insect repellent (30% DEET or more) and keeping your arms and legs covered at night, is a good defence against mosquitoes.
Check your local travel health authority for more information:
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Tanzania. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.
- A good insect repellent is essential for Katavi.
- Spare rechargeable batteries
- Battery charger
- Spare memory card for camera
- General clothing
- Trail shoes and hiking boots
- Personal medication
- Small backpack (for game drives)
- Toiletries – female visitors may want to bring tampons/pads along, as Moremi is a remote park, and you might not be able to acquire any whilst there.
If you are visiting from November to April wet-weather gear is necessary:
- Waterproof backpack
- Waterproof rain jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- Waterproof hiking boots
If you are visiting in the dry season from May to October you will need:
- Wide-brimmed sunhat
- Warm clothing – nights and early mornings are chilly
For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.