Katavi National Park
The name ‘Katavi’ immortalizes the legendary hunter, ‘Katabi’, whose spirit is believed to possess a local tamarind tree tinged with offerings from locals begging his blessings.
Tanzania's third largest national park - isolated, untrammelled and seldom visited, Katavi is a true wilderness, providing the few visitors who make it there with a thrilling taste of Africa as it must have been a century ago.
The park’s main geographical features are the wetland grass plains to the north and the palm-fringed Lake Chada to the south-east, but the main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River. During the rainy season, these lush, marshy lakes are a haven for myriad waterbirds, and they also support Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippo and crocodile.
It is during the dry season, when the floodwaters retreat, that Katavi truly comes into its own. 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 buffalo, while an abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala and reedbuck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.
Katavi’s most singular wildlife spectacle is provided by its hippos - 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 occurrence, with the vanquished male forced to lurk hapless on the open plains until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount another challenge.