Katavi National Park
Area: 4,471 sq km (1,727 sq miles)
Katavi National Park in western Tanzania is remote and wild, a destination for the true safari aficionado. The name of the park immortalises a legendary hunter, Katabi, whose spirit is believed to possess a tamarind tree ringed with offerings from locals begging his blessings.
Despite being Tanzania’s third-largest park, Katavi sees relatively few visitors, meaning that those guests who arrive here can look forward to having this huge untouched wilderness to themselves. The park’s main features are the watery grass plains to the north, the palm-fringed lake Chada in the south-east, and the Katuma River. Katavi boasts Tanzania’s greatest populations of both crocodile and hippopotamus. Lion and leopard find prey among the huge populations of herbivores at Katavi – impala, eland, Topi, zebra and herds of up to 1,600 buffalo wander the short grass plains.
The rare, honey-coloured Puku antelope is one of the park’s richest wildlife viewing rewards. A kaleidoscope of birds flit across the riverbanks, swamps and palm groves while flotillas of pelican cruise the lakes and elephants graze waist-deep in the marshlands. Katavi is best visited in the dry season between May and October, December and February.