I’ve visited and worked in many savanna parks in East and Southern Africa, and Katavi is certainly on my top 5 list. The Density and diversity of animals is superb, the floodplains and the surrounding hills make for fabulous scenery, and the river is the park’s lifeline. In my several visits there, I also have not met another tourist and my visits were both in October end of dry season/start of rainy season and in March where most of the park was flooded.
Katavi is best visited through self-camping, and it is one of the few parks in the whole region, where it is possible to camp anywhere. There are also a couple of upmarket camps in the park which is bound to change soon given the tourism development plans.
Visiting the park in the dry season is most recommended, as one can drive pretty much anywhere. However, even on our recent visit in March which is the rainy season. I was quite surprised by the density of wildlife we’ve encountered. We steered off the main road and took a short drive along the river with lots of buffaloes, hippos, giraffes, bushbucks, impalas, and other antelopes. The elephants were less present during the wet season as they disperse widely, yet nothing could beat seeing a nice family chewing on grass on Chada Plain.
In October, though the place could get little hot. When arriving to our campsite at midday, we were somewhat tired so spread out our mattresses for a nap. As we were sleeping, an elephant family decided to check out our camp and our car, and was walking in between our mattresses while we were asleep – luckily the nearby ranger did not wake us up or else this situation may not have ended so peacefully.
The beauty of the dry weather in October was to see hundreds of hippos congregated in one spot even a Hippo Pool next to our campsite. The cacophony and noise of their sounds at night was something to relish. To my surprise, I can sleep well with any animal noise around, but let’s say music or any other human-induced sounds would bother me.