Katavi National Park was gazetted in 1974 and is located in Western Tanzania. It is a very remote park that is less frequently visited than other Tanzanian National Parks. The park is approximately 4,471 square kilometers (1,727 sq miles) in area, which makes it the third largest National Park in Tanzania. The park encompasses the Katuma River and the seasonal Lake Katavi and Lake Chada floodplains.
Wildlife features include large animal herds, particularly of Cape Buffalo and elephant, plus along the Katuma river, crocodiles and hippos which upon annual dry seasons results in mudholes that can be packed with hundreds of hippos. Some sources claim a very high biodiversity in the park, although there are also reports of wildlife decline due to illegal hunting and poaching, presumably ‘bushmeat’ sustenance. In general, what is probably most noteworthy feature of Katavi versus other Tanzania Parks is that it lacks human visitors and jeeps conducting game drives.
Visitors to the park on an annual basis is unclear, except that in comparison to better known parks, is very low. From varying website claims, the number of visitors appears to be anywhere from 300-500 visitors/year. A survey of the actual rooms sold by the available ‘Safari’ style accommodations might reveal the number to be slightly higher, but based on total room count and season length, an upper limit can also be estimated. In addition to a public campsite (located at SO 06’39’19.1 E0 031’08’07.9), as of 2006, there were only two camps permitted to operate at Katavi, namely the Chada and the Foxes. These camps each have a visitor capacity limit of approximately one dozen.
Access to the park
Getting to Katavi for visitors will likely be arranged by the hosting camp, with one of the available charter flight services being Safari Aviation. All flights will require landing on the Katavi grass airstrip which has very minimal services. It is very approximately a two hour flight from Katavi to Daar Es Salaam via a small, bush-compatible light aircraft