Arguably one of the wildest places on earth, Western Tanzania is undoubtedly a challenge to reach, but the few hundred travellers prepared to make the trek to this remote landscape each year are profoundly rewarded with jaw-dropping scenery, spectacular wildlife and a small number of simple but superb, high end camps.
Katavi is Africa’s third largest national park, and its least visited. Huge herds of buffalo, elephant, giraffe, zebra, and eland congregate on the impressive Katisunga plains. Rivers and swamps support these vast animal populations year-round, attracting hippos in their hundreds and crocodiles to bask in the mud-holes. The opportunity to witness lions prey on buffalo is one of Katavi’s hallmarks, along with some of the best birdlife around. Low visitor numbers, off-road driving, and fly camping under the stars make this park a winning choice for any traveller with a taste for genuine wilderness adventure.
A trip to Katavi combines well with a visit to the Mahale Mountains National Park. Surrounded by jungle-clad mountains, and nestled against Lake Tanganyika with its deep, crystal waters and bright, white sands, the park’s location is simply phenomenal. Home to Tanzania’s densest population of primates, Mahale is famed for its chimpanzees in their natural habitat and sightings are a real delight. There are no roads here and boating, canoeing, walking and swimming are the only ways to get around, so good fitness levels are a must.
Katavi and Mahale are accessed via four or five hour light-aircraft flights from Dar or Arusha. Though access is costly, it’s worth pushing the boat out if you can. Well away from the main Tanzanian tourist circuit, the unrivalled isolation of these parks with their outstanding natural beauty will enthral any dedicated safari enthusiast.