Study trip Marjolijn Katavi National Park part 2
The rugged Katavi National Park is located in remote western Tanzania. Reachable after a four-hour flight from northern Tanzania, or else a brisk three day drive by car. The park has a strong change in seasons; From mid-November to the end of May, the swampy landscape is largely impassable due to rain. The best time to explore this area is from June to October, when it is drier. The park is best known for the immense population of hippos that populate the rivers, lakes and waterholes, where considerable territorial fights and displays of power between the males sometimes occur. Groups of hundreds of buffalo are not a rarity here, and more than 500 bird species make this park a paradise for bird watchers.
Our flight to Katavi takes four hours with a stopover in Tabora. From the air we see nothing but vast wilderness; plains, rivers, forests, palm trees and red clay soil. We are here during the beginning of the rainy season, so we are treated to quite a bit of rain. With that rain also comes countless insects, so if you don’t like insects, this season might not be your ideal time ;-)
The park has only three accommodations and the logistics are quite a challenge. It is admirable how Chada Katavi excels here and offers exactly the experience that we at Explore Tanzania love. Beautiful tents overlooking the Chada plain, a delicious safari style and fresh meals under the shade of impressive trees. We share countless stories with our guides and the friendly camp staff. We study the map of the park and learn about the various safari areas in the park; swamps, plains, rivers and forests, all hidden gems for overnight stays under the stars (fly camping), night safaris and secret places for walks where you will not meet anyone else.
In Katavi you have to make a little more effort to spot animals. But once you find them, you’ll have them to yourself. This park is fantastic if you already have some experience with safaris and are not mainly there to check off a checklist of animals. This is about enjoying looking for animals, appreciating everything in nature; from flowers to birds, from insects to reptiles. Here it is wonderful to simply be, without goals. It’s about appreciating the animals; when you see an impala, take the time to learn about it and quietly observe it.
Together with our guide we explore this area and begin to understand how this park works and where the roads run. We stop regularly to get out and stretch our legs. For a delicious ‘alone in the world breakfast in the bush’. With views of hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, various antelopes and birds.
During our safari we spotted two lions resting in the heat of the day. We also find mother leopard with her one-month-old cub. We enjoy these beautiful animals for hours at an appropriate distance. The mother leopard has cleverly hidden her cub in a hollow tree trunk and regularly takes a look, licks her little one clean and then lies down relaxed nearby.
At sunset all the hippos slowly wake up and we see a real yawning feast before they go ashore to graze through the night.
During our stay some safari jeeps had some bad luck. At the end of the season, the camp mechanic is a bit busier than usual. Fortunately, the guides have contact with each other and come to help. So we are forcefully pulling another car so that it can try to start. After that our own engine showed some problems. But that too is all repaired efficiently and soon we are all back on the road, ready for new adventures.
Such is life in the wilderness; unpredictable, sometimes challenging, but always with a sweet team that is ready and helps each other.
Read more in the next blog.