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Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park is an off the beaten track Dry season park that offers great wildlife viewing. Four of the Big Five can be found at the park. Elephants, buffalos, and lions are present, while leopard sightings are rare. Only rhino is absent.


The habitat here at the Katavi NP is grassland savannah and miombo woodland on the east side of the park. This place turns into shallow lakes and lush marshes after the rains.


The Dry season attracts huge herds of zebra, buffalo, and impala that gather with Defassa waterbuck and elephant around the drying water reserves of Lake Chada and Lake Katavi. Crocodile and hippo can also be seen at this time. Lions are usually situated close to the water sources, just waiting for they prey.

Katavi National Park isn’t that known for being home to unusual animals. However, thousands of buffalos can be spotted. You will also have a chance to see hippo and sable antelope that are usually nestled in the miombo woodland.

Best Time to Visit

The Dry season is definitely the best time to visit Katavi National Park. Unlike other parks that offer good wildlife viewing even in the Wet Season, Katavi is a classic dry-country reserve. The Wet season (November to April) is a time when wildlife disperses and wildlife viewing becomes difficult. The Katuma River gets reduced to a narrow stream after the rains and the floodplains become a magnet for a variety of animals.

May to October Dry Season

  • Animals are easier to spot since the vegetation is thin.
  • There is little rain and the weather is usually sunny.
  • There are fewer mosquitos and the risk of malaria is lowered.
  • It doesn’t get extremely hot.
  • It can be quite dry and dusty.
  • Some lodges are closed in May.

November to April Wet Season

  • The scenery is quite lush.
  • Better rates can be found from November to May also known as the low season.
  • The conditions for bird-watching are ideal.
  • Wildlife viewing becomes more difficult, as wildlife disperses into the woodland.
  • There are many mosquitos and it can get extremely hot and humid.

Getting There 

The easiest way to reach Katavi is by flight from Arusha. There are public scheduled flights operated by Safari Air Link between Mahale, Katavi, and Ruaha, but this service is only available twice a week. Nomad Safaris operates camps in Katavi and Mahale and runs a scheduled air service from Mahale and Katavi to Arusha via the airstrips in the northern parks.

There are two entry points to the country. Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is located about 46km/29mi from Arusha, while Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) is situated near Dar es Salaam. The tour operator is usually in charge of picking up guests from the airport and making further arrangements including a charter flight to the airstrip in the park.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

To find out which airlines can take you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), check out Skyscanner. For multiple destinations flights and ticket prices, please check Expedia.

Domestic Flights

The tour operator is usually in charge of booking charter flights as part of the tour package. Flight tickets to Katavi can be booked with Safari Air Link.