Tanzania Safari, Top Planning Tips for 2016
With over 1 million tourists visiting Tanzania, this destinations remains the top preferred African safari country. This article helps you to plan for your Tanzania safari adventure the best way possible.
There are a few questions that you may need to answer for yourself way before you even start to plan a safari to Tanzania for example; when do you intend to go for the safari, what kind of experience do you want to encounter; luxury, budget or something in-between? The first step to a successful planning is actually identifying your own needs. Having identified that, you can now contact a safari company or begin to sketch the journey on your own.
Planning A Tanzanian Safari on Your Own?
It is by far the easiest option to use a safari company in case you are booking a safari for yourself and this is mainly because there is a lot of paperwork that is involved even at the park entrances themselves which can be a little stressful, so imagine coming when this is already done for you. The accommodation in parks also requires pre-booking and trust someone who does this for a living to get you the best deals. You also need a guide who is well acquitted with the journey to move you around as opposed to doing it on your own.
How Much Can You Spend?
The biggest determination of price fluctuation is the group size and the level of accommodation. Do you prefer a top-end private Tanzania safari or you don’t mind staying in tents or sharing the keep with others? Accommodation varies from bush tents to tented lodges, private tented lodges and luxury lodges.
Most people usually prefer characteristic boutique hotels and thus end up mixing unique tented lodges with the luxury lodges. Most tourists in Tanzania spend an average of US $ 240 per person per night. Many have come to acknowledge that the combination is the best since tented lodges give them a profound insight into the surrounding while enjoying all the modern digs like comfortable beds, hot showers as well as 24/7 electricity.
Best Time To Go On Safari
Timing is very crucial when planning your safari to Tanzania and this also affects the price tag. It is practically possible to see the great migration from here all year round but you may require longer legs during the wet season. It is quite easier to see wildlife in the dry season (from June to August) as animals usually gather around water sources. That being said, the low season may bring more discounted prices for accommodation and Tanzania tours as compared to the peak seasons. Tanzania Parks that are famous like Serengeti and Ngorongoro get extremely crowded in peak season which might turn off your wilderness fantasies.
However planning an itinerary during the wet season requires more careful planning and this is where the Tanzania adventure companies come in handy. Some parks have a rundown of animals especially after the great migration has passed and the water is also no longer available like Lake Manyara national park so it makes no sense arranging a game drive there. Beginning in March and ending in May is the low season in Tanzania.
Tailored or Fixed Tanzania Tour Safari Itinerary?
There are some Tanzania safari companies that offer fixed safari itineraries at more or less fixed prices and usually for fixed sized groups. This may not necessarily be a bad option if the suggested route fits into your likings but you have to bear in mind that these itineraries in most cases tour the beaten path. In-case your time is limited too; you may want to visit the highlights for example the famous parks. A pre-packaged private Tanzania safari could as well be a cheaper option as the company can get the best deals with hotels they frequent.
We still recommend that you ask if it is possible for the company to adjust the route according to what you prefer or if they can tailor the itinerary for you from scratch. This will also show you how flexible the company you are using can be.
What Makes the Best Tanzania Safari Itinerary?
If you are visiting Tanzania for the very first time and you don’t visit the super stars like the national parks of Ngorongoro and Serengeti, it would be criminal. With tourism developing very fast, we also suggest that you add some off beaten path parks such as Tarangire as well as some unusual experiences for example visiting a mountain village or coffee farm. This will be so astonishing but remember it still trickles down to one’s personal preferences.
Pay closer attention to the transfer times and the number of game drives in parks. You may need to ask you safari company if these times are realistic or can extend due to muddy roads full of potholes. This will enable you to determine whether you are comfortable with it. There are usually morning game drives that may require you to wake up quite early, have an early breakfast before heading out. Have the lunch away from the hotel and enjoy an afternoon game drive before finally checking into your hotel at around 7pm. This is quite a long day with the wild and you will enjoy every second of it therefore you need to brain storm if you can actually handle it. Remember the more game drives you have, the pricier the Tanzania safari gets.
This shows you that at the end of the day the best safari experience all depends on your personal preference. No matter how fixed the itinerary could be, each safari is different therefore using a reliable safari company will guarantee you the best trip ever therefore take time to plan and choose the Tanzania safari operator wisely so as to have a trip of your lifetime.
TOP 10 THINGS TO OUGHT NOT TO MISS WHILE IN TANZANIA
Africa’s highest mountain and famous national parks and game reserves being in Tanzania has put the country high on the travelling map and making it a must go to destinations in the continent. Its rich eco-diversity offers plenty to see and here we have complied for you the top 10 things you can do while in Tanzania.
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa standing at a height of 5,895 metres above sea level which makes it very famous among ardent mountaineers. The mountain has three peaks namely Kibo, Shira and Mawenzi with the Uhuru peak on the Kibo crater rim being the highest. Climbing doesn’t come easy for everyone therefore there are a range of tour options that allow different climbing abilities. At lower levels of the mountain are hiking tours where travellers are given the opportunity to explore the craters, Shira plateau and wildlife while getting sight of the most scenic views. Near the mountain is a national park that is a UNESCO World Heritage site that one may visit if they don’t wish to climb or even after climbing. The average years of tourists to climb Kilimanjaro is between 25 and 44 years old.
Take a balloon Tanzania Safari over the Serengeti National Park
Serengeti is a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising of 1.5 hectare of savannah and massive numbers of wildlife making it the most famous and oldest park in Tanzania. The park is very famous for its annual great migration where there is an influx of wildebeests, zebra, Thomson’s gazelle all stomping through the wide open plains, followed by their predators especially the cat family. Taking a balloon safari is the best way you can enjoy the site here and these are available all year round. Enjoy flawless photography opportunities of scenery and wildlife. 16 people travel in a balloon that is to say, it is its carrying capacity. This Tanzania expedition safari also includes breakfast amidst the wild followed by a drive through the park.
Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania Safari
Ngorongoro crater is home to over 25,000 animals and this is a real world place of wonder and also a UNESCO world heritage site. It is only in Ngorongoro conservation area that you will find humans and wildlife living alongside each other in the volcanic caldera. The crater was a result of a giant volcanic eruption that collapsed on itself about two – three million years ago. It has flourished into a natural enclosure since harboring lots of wildlife you can see on an expedition like zebras, buffalos, rhinos, lions and wildebeests. You will enjoy game drives within the conservation area which is an ideal way of seeing animals in their natural habitat.
Beaches of Zanzibar
The most perfect way of concluding a safari is by relaxing at the array of beaches that line the island of Zanzibar. The east coast offers unending coral reefs with white sandy beaches which are lined with a number of coconut palms as well as small cloves that shelter from the wind. There are coral cliffs and lagoon coves the southwest which give you the opportunity to escape to a less touristy spot, and Non-tidal beaches between Nungwoi and Kendwa along the northwest coast. The islands in the southwest have secret beaches which make it ideal for picnic encounters as well as the northeast island of Mnemba which is thought to be the finest beach in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar Tanzania Safari Holidays
The stone town of Zanzibar is a Swahili coastal trading town filled with intriguing history. Exotic spices, explorers, sultans and sea traders all make up part of history of this town as much of the historic sites remain intact. It comprises a range of influences from other traditions and cultures being imprinted and interesting architecture of coral stone building lining the narrow streets.
Scuba Diving off Mafia Island Tanzania Safari Holidays
Mafia Island is the largest of all small archipelago islands and is situated off the coast of Tanzania. It is famous for scuba diving and deep sea fishing where most residents engage in fishing. There is plenty of aquatic life here with much of the coral gardens remaining unspoiled through the protection of the Mafia Island Marine Park. The park combines a varied range of unique landscapes under the sea as it is situated between the open Indian Ocean and Rufiji river delta. Divers get the opportunity to swim with whale sharks with the outstanding reefs as well as 400 species of fish. Diver level sites are available on the island from beginner to the experienced.
The Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwana, Tanzania Safari
Kilwa Kisiwana was at one time a flourishing Arab city state till majority population relocated to Kilwa Masoko. The place now remains as a major medieval port on an island just away from the coast if Tanzania. Much trade that took place in Indian ocean passed through Kilwa Kisiwana which made it of much interest among the early European explorers. The ruins now comprise an Omani fortress, mosques, the great palace, graves as well as the remnants of what once stood as the largest building in sub-Saharan Africa.
Chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park
Stream national park is the smallest national park in Tanzania sitting on a stretch of only 20 square miles. It has a fragile strip of chimpanzee habitat along the steep slopes and river valleys near the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. In 1965 a conservationist by the names of Jane Goodall founded the Gombe Stream research center and this made the park renown. 200 types of birds can also be found here as well as beachcomber baboons. Hundreds of small boats can be spotted on the lake in evenings glowing to the setting sun. You can enjoy trekking chimpanzees, hiking, swimming, visiting local sites and snorkeling.
Maasai Cultural Tour
The Maasai are a world renowned tribe living close to game parks in north of Tanzania. They are mainly known for their unique lifestyle and customs. Although the origin of the Maasai tribe is not clear, their history spans over a 2000 year period. Tours to the Masai land are available and tourists can get to see for themselves the uniqueness of Maasai and also engage in some of their activities.
Boat Safari in Selous Game Reserve
Selous game reserve is one of the largest protected areas and the largest game reserve you can visit on an African safari as it covers an area of more than 50,000 square kilometers. It covers 5% of Tanzania’s land area and runs across 5 regions. It is home to vast numbers of wildlife including wild dogs, hippos, elephants, antelopes, buffalo giraffes, leopards, lions, crocodiles, wildebeest and a range of bird life. It also has a major geographical feature the Rufiji river where you can take a Tanzania safari on boat and be able to see a vast range of flora and fauna.
This is our compilation of safaris in Tanzania. We would like to know your thoughts on this!
A Great Safari Video Below
WESTERN TANZANIA SAFARI REGION
Western Tanzania is a great place to enjoy an authentic African jungle safari experience. Best re known for chimpanzee viewing, the western tourist circuit has varying scenes offered by the equatorial rain forests around the shores of lake Tanganyika, rugged mountains, lake Tanganyika one of the deepest lakes in the world. Safaris to western tourist circuit are infrequently experienced on its own but more often as an extra opportunity to the northern tourism areas.
Call it the great lakes circuit because strategically lies in the Great Rift Valley with several inland lakes, Lake Tanganyika further in the south, is Lake Malawi and Lake Nyasi, these habitats are areas merged between the East African and west African equatorial rain forests therefore offers safe chances to experience wildlife, climate and weather, culture unique to this small Great rift valley landscapes.
Gombe stream National Park
Gombe National Park is the smallest of the other parks in the Western tourist area but preciously has ecosystems that provide home to the critically endangered apes the chimpanzees which are the highlight. Because the park is heavily forested making it suitable for walking safaris, a number of several species of primates inhabit the forests. The park is found on the shores of Lake Tanganyika covering a small area of about 52 sq km but with rare chances of tracking man’s closest cousin the chimpanzee.
Gombe stream National Park is located 20 km way from the Kigoma town within the Kigoma western region running besides the forested rugged hill of Lake Tanganyika with a variety of ecosystems that ranges from grasslands, dense tropical forests to the alpine and bamboo forests. This diversity of vegetation makes it a popular destination for tourists. The park is also synonymous with the Jane Goodall who initiated chimpanzee behavior research on some of the chimp communities that has featured in first rated wildlife documentaries and books. Her ground breaking research enabled the park to be crown as a national park in an attempt to conserve chimpanzee ecosystems.
Besides the chimpanzees, the park is a home to a variety of other wild animals including other monkeys such as red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboon and the red colobus monkeys. Visitors to the park can also spot leopards although nocturnal predator, Bush Pigs and Bushbucks as well as large concentration of hippos that flock river valleys. The park is also known to have the largest number of species of snakes; about 11 have been recorded in the park therefore the park offers a great deal of wildlife encounters with an African jungle safari experience any wildlife enthusiasts would wish to visit.
Birding is abundant with the alluring list of 200 species have been recorded in the park including large birds of prey. Birders should not miss a chance to see the challenging forest species the secret lies in good binoculars and determination on the birding trail with your guide, peter’s twin spot is hard to see, other birds commonly spotted include tropical Boubou, Rafous sparrow, common African fish eagles and specialist birders venture along the shore of the lake Tanganyika to see fish eagles and palm-nut vultures hovering over the palm trees.
All in all Gombe stream National Park is the ideal place for walking safaris seemingly exhaustive to trek through the forests but rewardingly later cool off along the way to the shores of lake Tanganyika if you enjoy swimming and snorkeling or with a dip in one of the safe streams that crisscross the park.
Chimpanzee Tracking – Gombe Stream National Park
Chimpanzees are one of the critically endangered apes that amazingly share 98.7 % of their genes with humans sometimes referred to as man’s closest cousin. They are main attractions in the park including communities that have been familiarized with people through the long process of habituation that were famed for the Jane Goodall who in the 1960 fronted the research for the conservation of these rare primates.
Venturing to spend time with a habituated troop of chimps is a life time experience walking along the breezy shores of Lake Tanganyika is possibly the most exciting for primate lovers with a sense of adventure.
Just you need to best trek chimps during the dry season although chimp viewing takes place all year round. November, December to February tend to be dry although weather might change. Therefore get on your packing list and before you trek dress up for the jungles, get good walking shoes, walking sticks, rain jackets and water proof bags to protect your cameras. Long pants, gloves, insect repellants and packed snacks of course with enough drinking water.
Visitors pay US $100 for entering the park, the landscape is scenic firstly your guides will briefly highlight visitors with the rules and etiquette of tracking chimpanzee since humans are a threat to chimpanzees, care must be taken. Finding chimpanzees is by lack and you might not be guaranteed to spot one but trackers at the trail head keep monitoring chimp movements and shall locate a particular troop of chimps. Trekking is by walking on foot through varying altitudes s expects to walk for an average 3 hours roundtrip.
Once the troop is found, your guide will tell to get prepared with cameras but flashlight is strictly prohibited, enjoy a life time offer for excellent photography within one hour limit. The safety of chimpanzee is paramount thus your contact is limited better utilize the little time and be mesmerized by the adult male chimps drumming buttress roots, listen to their calls and learn how they feed as you get excited. However do not litter, or eat while you are still with chimps, your guide is ever by your side inquire from him about other wildlife in the park. Enthusiast trekkers make their way to hike to the top of Kakombe waterfalls with stunning views and freshness. Lots of birds, wild flowers can be seen. Later return to Gombe forest lodge for your meal time refreshments.
From trekking chimps, you will go back to the camp en rote you might bump into olive baboons, red tailed monkeys, and blue monkeys. Besides the shores of the lake are good campsites.
Gombe stream national park is a home to over 200 species of birds with many of them being forest birds. Walking trails offer a chance to se the rare Peter’s twin spot, including other specialists such as the African broadbill, red capped robin chat, Ross’s Turaco, Livingstone’s Turaco, golden ramped tinker birds just a glimpse of species. The shores of Lake Tanganyika are amazing where palm-nut vultures and the African fish eagles lining the waters of the lake.
Bird watching is carried out all year round in the park but specifically you would want to time properly for the seasoned European and North African migratory birds, that would be during the dry months November to early march. This is the time when birds start nestling as the breeding plumage takes place; good photographers can take good shorts since birds might be quite perched over tree branches or in their nests.
March to April rains become frequent and walking over the trails plus mist smokes might be challenging.
Lake Tanganyika- the Deepest Fresh Water in Africa
Lake Tanganyika is the deepest fresh water lake in Africa and second in the world with a depth of 1,433 meters, the lake is also the longest 660 km no wonder it’s situated between the Great Rift Valley floors. The lake has a variety of fish species the popular being Nile Perch thus it gives you a perfect compliment to a bush trek as you watch local fishermen cast their nets with lights to catch fish. Water lovers come for snorkeling in the fresh waters to see many aquarium species of plants, fish and the jellyfish and coral reefs. You might cool off at the white sandy beaches as soon as you get out of the boat for the spectacle magical sunset.
The lake forms the territory between Tanzania and the democratic republic of Congo with about 26 rivers flowing into the lake making it a huge water reservoir with 18 % of the fresh water. Year round the, lake has conducive temperatures of 24 to 26 °c therefore a wonderful destination for water enthusiasts interested in water based activities.
Activities to do on lake Tanganyika
The water of the lake is typically warmed suitable for a variety of fish and other aquarium species. Although safe for water sports and activities, visitors are advised to always indulge in any activity under the guidance of local fishermen who understand the size of the lake and areas that are not safe. Remember the lake harbors crocodiles, the poisonous cobra snake, hippos. Therefore must swim in safe areas of the lake.
Lots of water activities include swimming, snorkeling and even scuba diving under the bedrocks of the lake and much more to offer, visitors can go fishing. The lake is famous for big concentrations of fish species including the Nile perch, goliath, nkupi, tiger fish which are among the most favorite. The Nile perch is the largest weighing up to 80kgs which most visitors try to catch and later find it spiced on the cool Sunday beach relaxation.
The Ndole Bay lodge by the shore of the lake usually hosts fishing competition which has become popular especially during the month of April every year. Among the most famous water sport activities carried out include, sport fishing, sailing, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving, boating, waterskiing, kite surfing, kayaking, lake game viewing just a peep of water sports offered at the lake.
While the host of sport fishing competition encourages catch and release, most of the fish ends up being eaten and superbly you shall enjoy your day’s catch for that home made dinner later when you reap off the boat or snorkel tube. There are over 400 species of fish including 280 species of cichlids, note that some of the fish species are very large and challenging to catch so expect a large fish fight. The most notable is the Sangala Pamba of 2 meters in length and weight of up to 100 kg, the other common catches of fish include the Nile perch (50 kg), Salmon fish up to 25 kg, Nkupi or yellow fish with 4 kg, Tiger fish, Lake Trout fish, Vundoo fish. The rare species of fish infrequently caught include the gigantic Goliath tiger fish with a weight of 30 kg.
Zambia has annual fishing competition usually conducted in March very year on Lake Tanganyika hosted by the Zambia national fishing competition, over 100 fishermen from around Africa and the globe at large are attracted to the lake which has famed the Tanganyika Lake as a destination for water lovers.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
For aquarists Lake Tanganyika is safe for diving deep into the waters with huge visibility of fish species and other underground water species like jellyfish. Explore under the water by venturing to spend the day down deep looking at unbelievable topography under water full of cichlids or bump into the endemic aquatic cobra. Visitors who might need to learn more about scuba diving, Ndole lodge offers certified courses right there at the lakeshores.
Additionally Lake Game Viewing During diving and snorkeling trips on the water, visitors can enjoy a lot of other aquatic species including freshwater crabs, otters, critters jellyfish, speckled eels which are all harmless.
There are half day or full day kayaking trips offered on the lake, kayak over the waters and head to the most scenic and beautiful islands full of picnic sites for refreshment and sunbathing.
Other water sport activities rather than the normal diving, snorkeling, or kayaking, there are offers to enjoy boating, kite surfing, sailing on motorized boats, waterskiing and interestingly swimming along the shallow sandy beaches of the lake.
Things to pack before you head for Water Sports
Visitors must note that the lake is the deepest in Africa thus going for the waters minus adequate preparation can otherwise be disappointing. Local fishermen and guides will tell what to do among the important things include life jackets, helmets, gloves, ear pads, diving equipments. Specialist divers usually arrive with their combat while amateurs will be told what to do.
Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale National Park is another sanctuary for chimpanzees with a good number of about 1000 chimps that live in the park. Covering an area of 1,613 km, the park is located in western Tanzania South of Kigoma town on the shore shores of Tanganyika on the western side. The park offers a magical chimp trekking experience due to its strategic location in a true African remote wilderness that is experienced by foot once you get there you can only get out by a boat which is extremely unique.
The isolation of the park has helped to keep chimpanzees safe in the verdant tropical rain forests on rugged mountains that form a beautiful blue backdrop behind the finest sandy beaches. +the streams flowing in the forest are teemed with colorful butterflies and dense population sof other primates such as yellow baboon, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys red colobus and the secretive blue monkeys.
The prime attraction in the park is the chimpanzee including the habituated, the Mahale group of chimpanzees notably the Mimikire group which was habituated as early as 1965, currently it has about 56 chimpanzees that can be trekked at close distances although familiar with people, you are never allowed to touch chimpanzees since they are wild animals and venerable to human diseases. Hence visitors must be in good health conditions and must wear masks which are available at the trekking point.
Trekking to see chimps can be quite challenging depending on their location but averagely from 20 minutes to more than 3 hours of hiking the Mahale Mountains is best done in the dry season August to October when trails are not slippery.
On the western slopes of Mahale mountains have lowland forests called Kasoge forest; the 7 k forest stretches along the banks of river Lubulungu at an altitude of 780m to 1,300 meters above the sea level. There is a variety of up to 1,174 species of plants that support the high levels of humidity. The tropical semi-deciduous type, tall trees form dense canopies.
Apart from chimpanzee, the park is a home to 82 species of mammals that make it the most ecologically diverse ecosystems including mountain Reedbuck, greater and lesser Kudu, Warthog, zebras, giraffes, roan antelope, hartebeest, and Harvey’s duiker. Lions have also been spotted in the park the largest African predator.
Bird life is prolific with a fascinating list of 355 species of birds with many species concentrated in the north of the park Kabezi area which is quite open with woodlands where many aerial foraging species, birds of prey can all be seen than deep in the forests. Several other species are endemic to the park.
Getting to Mahale
Mahale can be accessed by air, road and the boat cruise that finally takes you to the heart of the park. Flights from Arusha or dare Es Salaam to the airstrip at Mahale can take 45 minutes and is the easiest and quick way to access the park by time bound travelers. Tour operators can be used to arrange the flights or possibly private charter aircrafts can be arranged as well.
By road it’s quite challenging but adventurous from Arusha city to Kigoma town which is 20 km away from the park. It might take 2-3 days of driving a 4 wheel vehicle is the best to manage the rough roads. From Kigoma town the park shall be reached by boat, speed boats are quick within 4 to 5 hours while the timber boat can take 15 hours.
There is also a large steam ship which is not reliable as works twice a month to make a complete round trip including several stopovers but if properly timed, it’s the best way to take many passengers and cargo.
Visitors can enjoy overnight stays by choosing to stay at either Greystoke Mahale lodge with luxuriant offers or Nkungwe lodge is the best optional and affordable.
Birds of Mahale Mountains National Park
The park boosts a list of 355 species which are mostly concentrated in the woodlands than in the forests; it depends on your specialist species of interest and that shall determine your birding trip either along the lakeshores or in the forest and open woodlands just besides the mountains at Kabezi area. Birding usually starts early in the morning, In the open woodlands birds can be visible while forested birds might be challenging to encounter since birds are not like animals unless you carefully listen to their calls.
Splurge hours walking through the narrow tracks as you climb to the hidden spectacular waterfalls, primates can also be spotted along the trail. Given the varied vegetation and plants, different species can be see the red-collared widowbird, speckled mouse birds in palm trees, continue to Mount Kungwe to spot Crowned Eagles, Bee Eaters, Rollers.
On the forest edge, you may encounter the Crested Guinea fowls along the kanyansa valley, Ross’s Turaco, White Brown Robin chat, look up the tree tops for the Violet-backed starlings. Hopefully specialist birders might spot new birds that have not been recorded but speculated to be living in the forests therefore get involved in making the Mahale checklist.
Chimpanzee Trekking – Mahale National Park
Chimpanzee trekking in Tanzania is confined to only Mahale and Gombe stream national parks hence Tanzania is just a fanatic place to be for primatologists. Mahale national park has over 1000 chimpanzees perhaps the largest among east Africa including those troops that have been habituated for tourists notably the M – group of chimps.
The M-group has approximately over 60 chimpanzees which are interesting primates in Africa to view at an unbelievable close distance which make chimp trekking an ultimate wildlife experience in a life time on planet earth.
After breakfast at kungwe lodge, visitors shall gather to listen to the chimp guides will briefly take you through the rules of trekking for the safely and health of chimps, and again guides know most of the chimps by features such as facial recognition.
A maximum number of 6 people can trek and view them for only one hour so as to minimize disturbances, voices must be kept low not to scare away other animals, visitors must stay in a tight group to avoid attacks, keep a 10 meter distance to photograph chimps but flashlight must be off, eating in front of chimps is not allowed as well as touching them. Visitors are advised not to leave their belongings behind or litter the forest as it might transmit human related diseases. Once you adhere to these rules your trek will be amazing and ensuring continuity of chimpanzee trekking.
There are self contained tourist bandas and private owned camps suitable for budget travelers and other groups of people who come to the park. Self catering facilities can be offered and local cooks are available for hire. Visitors should use the reservation email of the park for bookings.
Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park is one of the magnificently scenic parks in east Africa with spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities and the best safari destination due to the remoteness of the park giving you a true African spirit of wilderness. The park is situated in the middle of Lake Katavi and Lake Chada that compose the diversity of the park. The park is located in western Tanzania on the northern side of Rukwa rift valley which an extension of the great western arm rift valley, dotted with acacia woodlands native to tropical Africa, swamps and floodplains around the lakes, grasslands and permanent rivers that flow through the park and provide water during the dry seasons.
The park covers an area of 4,471 km making it the third largest park in Tanzania, the diverse ecosystems provide habitat to a variety of mammals that include large herds of cape buffalo, elephants, topi, zebras, impala, Defassa waterbuck, giraffe and hartebeest that flood the plains during the dry spells. Africa’s large and deadliest predators live in the park as well notably the lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, the elusive African hunting dog which are nocturnal and often stay in the closed escarpments of the rift valleys thus difficult to spot.
The Katuma and Kapapa Rivers are full of thousands of hippos as well as gargantuan crocodiles along the muddy river banks. During the dry season when most of the animals congregate on the permanent river waters, visitors will be mesmerized by fierce fights between lions and buffalos as you watch hyenas snatching from behind the lion the corpse remains of buffalo.
Apart from plenty of big game viewing, the park has over 400 species of birds including many water birds. The park is a hidden gem among the reasons why you should visit Katavi is that, it offers walking safaris, excellent bird watching and fly-camping.
Getting to Katavi national park can either be by air or road transportation, however flights can be easy and quick compared to the long road trip to the park. From Arusha or Dar Es Salaam international airports aircrafts ca fly for about 4-5 hours and land murram airstrip of Ikuu with refueling and other services.
Ground transportation to the park is quite long up to 2 days of road driving. Different routes vary by distance, time and costs. Drive from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya town in within a day and continue to the Sumbawanga forests and stop at Sitalike Katavi national park. This route can take three days. The other routes offer an adventurous drive include the Arusha,Tabora passing through Babati to the park.
Far-off the compressed track and jaggedly adventurous, this is a straight safari for the seasoned travelers interested in the real essence of African jungle safaris.
Katavi National Park can be visited all year round; the best time is the dry months from May-October game viewing is at utmost when large animals congregate along rivers for water.
Katavi National Park is famed for the biggest herds of buffalos in Tanzania, game drives start from Chada lodge and tented camp, and game viewing can be done either on safari vehicles or by walking safaris which provide an opportunity to encounter lions hunting buffalos is a unique feature in the park, huge numbers of elephants, giraffes, zebras, as well as species of antelopes such as impalas, waterbucks and the eland the largest of all antelopes.’ With no doubt it makes the park one of Tanzania’s most improbable with a classic safari experience.
Predators including leopards, African wild dog are nocturnal by nature thus difficult to spot. Spotted hyenas can also be seen. Along the rivers are the numerous pods of hippos over 600 stay in the lakes and rivers in the park.
Game viewing is usually abundant during the dry season January to March and June to October when the weather is warm, walking trails is easy to walk over. On the other side April to May and November to December are typically wet months and visitors tend to avoid them due to the somewhat unfavorable weather conditions.
To get out of your safari in the park, you must be dressed in a jungle fitting including solid walking boots, walking sticks, packed snacks because game drives or walking safaris might take long hours or sometimes a full day. A game drive vehicle can be hired at 100 US $ including a driver and visitors are always accompanied by armed rangers.
Overlooking lake Chada are the lavishness tented campsites and a rest house inside the park.
Birding In Katavi National Park
Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park and the activity is conducted throughout the year although the best time is from November to April when migratory birds from Europe and North Africa arrive. Along the rivers and lakes are the beautiful water birds including raptors, saddle billed storks, open billed storks, fish eagles, vultures, pink backed pelicans, lilac breasted roller. Other specialist species include African Golden oriole, little bee eater, African paradise flycatcher and Bateleur.
Useful Resources for visitors in Tanzania