Katavi National Park is undoubtedly Tanzania’s best-kept secret. This is isolated, unspoiled Tanzania at its best, and it promises a thrilling, bygone taste of Africa in its purest and truest form for the few intrepid safari enthusiasts who make the journey. Situated along the rift escarpment in Tanzania’s furthest western reaches, Katavi National Park encompasses two contiguous game reserves to create the country’s third largest national park. Despite its size and atmosphere, the park receives very few visitors. But the reward of getting here is ten-fold. The lodges within Katavi are just as luxurious as anywhere else in the country, and the safari experiences are certainly wilder and more magical.

Katavi’s dominant feature is the Katisunga Plain, a vast grassy expanse at the heart of the park that gives way to immense tracts of original miombo woodlands, which houses substantial populations of the localized eland and antelope. Together with Ruaha National Park, Katavi is one of the few places where both roan and sable antelopes can be spotted side by side. While this is an impressive feature in itself, Katavi’s prevailing wildlife spectacle actually takes place in the Katuma River and its associated floodplains. During the rainy seasons, the lush, marshy Katavi and Chada Lakes transform into a haven for more than 400 water bird species and a home for Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippo and crocodile. Toward the end of the dry season, up to a thousand hippos will congregate in the muddy pools, sparking bloody territorial fights between its heated males.

It is during the dry season, however, that Katavi truly comes to life. As the floodwaters retreat, massive wildlife populations flock to its trickling life support. The game concentrations during this time are believed to peak higher than those of Ngorongoro, featuring an estimated 4,000 elephants and several herds of 1,000-plus buffalo—some of the largest remaining buffalo herds in all of Africa. Meanwhile, the abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala, and reedbuck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories collide on the plains, the vultures, fish eagles, and vervet monkeys looking on at the inevitable daily duel from the trees above. It is no wonder that safari enthusiasts consider Katavi National Park to be the quintessential safari park in Tanzania, and Ker & Downey can’t wait to take you there. We suggest pairing this park with Mahale for a truly unforgettable and wholly unique Tanzania safari experience.