Covering an area of 2253 km2 Katavi National Park is located in Mpanda Districts, Rukwa Region about 40 km south east of Mpanda town. The name of the park immortalizes a legendry hunter, katabi, whose spirit is believed to posses a tamarind tree ringed with offerings from locals begging his blessings.
The park is famous for its undisturbed natural face compared to other parks in the country. Despite being the Tanzania third largest park, Katavi sees relatively few visitors, meaning that those guests who arrive here can look forward to having this huge pristine wilderness to them selves.
The landscape is one of open grassy plains interspersed with brachystegia (miombo) woodland, acacia forests, small lakes and swampy wetlands. Major features of attraction include Lake Katavi with its vast short grass flood plains in the north; palm fringed Lake Chada in the Southeast and Katuma River. Katavi boasts Tanzania’s greatest population of both crocodile and hippopotamus. In addition to the buffalo, hippo and elephant, the park holds vast quantities of crocs, topi, giraffe, hartebeest, sable, roan, waterbuck and reedbuck and large populations of predators – lion, hyena, leopard. The rare puku antelope can be seen with some luck for some extraordinary reason it also seems to hold vast quantities of mice, especially around the edge of Chada flood plain. The 400 plus species of birds reflect an intriguing balance between east and southern African species.
Katavi is the best visited in the dry season between May and October. This is mostly because all roads in, are strictly four wheel drive tracks, which become impassable in the rainy season. For accommodation there is a rest house and campsites within the park area, hotels and loges in Mpanda and Sumbawanga towns.