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The Katavi and Mahale safari

Discover outstanding game in the wild Katavi and chimpanzees in Mahale’s remote forests on the edge of Lake Tanganyika. This safari to Tanzania’s remote west must be one of the best wildlife and wilderness experiences in Africa.

Our safari camps are small and intimate accommodating a maximum 12 guests.

  • Arusha
  • Katavi National Park
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • 9 days/8 nights

Highlights of Katavi and Mahale

The extreme wilderness conditions and wildlife you’ll encounter in Katavi are a stark contrast with the almost surreal forest encounters in Mahale.

  • Outstanding game in Africa’s top parks
  • diverse habitats
  • extreme wildlife experiences
  • Katavi – Tanzanian wetlands and woodlands, home to leopard, zebra, elephant, lion and buffalo and large populations of hippo and crocodile. Good for bird watching
  • Lake Tanganyika – Second largest lake in the world with gin clear waters supporting around 500 species of endemic cichlids. The Great Rift Valley mountains surround the lake. Chimpanzees live in the Mahale Mountains National Park.

Both destinations share an extreme sense of uninhabited remoteness – Katavi is a 4 hour flight from Arusha. Mahale is a further 1 hour flight and 2 hours by dhow. We’re now 100 km from the nearest road!

Best time to go on safari in Tanzania’s wild west

  • July/August/September – best time to travel but also the busiest time of year in East Africa. Camps are small and available on a first come first served basis. Book early. 
  • Katavi is closed between 19 December to 1st June for the rainy season.
  • Mahale is closed 3rd week March to end of May.

ItineraryFrom $7745

Day 1 - Arusha Day 1 - Arusha View More

You're met on arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport for road transfer to Onsea House. Dinner, breakfast, early morning coffee & tea on the verandah and afternoon tea.

Day 2 - Katavi National Park Day 2 - Katavi National Park View More

Your guide will meet you after breakfast for transfer to Arush airport for your onward flights to Katavi. Met on arrival for game drive transfer to camp.

Day 3 - Katavi National Park Day 3 - Katavi National Park View More

You're staying in one of Africa's best wildlife destinations! Dramatic and adventurous. Hippos and crocodiles in the rivers and more mammals than any other reserve in Tanzania... enjoy!

Day 4 - Katavi National Park Day 4 - Katavi National Park View More

4500 square kilometres of Tanzanian woods and wetlands to explore. Excellent array animal and bird, including leopard, elephant, zebra, buffalo and lion.

Day 5 - Katavi National Park Day 5 - Katavi National Park View More

Your final day at Katavi. A day of game drives and walks with your professional guide and to reflect and feel privileged to be able to explore such a remote and uninhabited area of Africa.

Day 6 - Leave Katavi for Lake Tanganyika Day 6 - Leave Katavi for Lake Tanganyika View More

Final game drive transfer to Katavi airstrip for your flight to Mahale. On arrival you'll hop onto a motorised dhow on Lake Tanganyika to camp.

Day 7 - Lake Tanganyika Day 7 - Lake Tanganyika View More

Stay at Greystoke Mahale in one of their comfortable wooden bandas with views across the sandy beach. Stylish rustic interiors made from dhow timber. A true barefoot paradise.

Day 8 - Lake Tanganyika Day 8 - Lake Tanganyika View More

Activities on a shared basis include: chimp trekking, forest walks, village visits, boat trips and deep water swimming in some of the cleanest waters in the world!

Day 9 - Leave Lake Tanganyika Day 9 - Leave Lake Tanganyika View More

Boat transfer to the airstrip for your scheduled flight to Arusha (only on Monday and Thursday) to connect to your onward destination. We can help with your onward travel arrangements if you wish.

View full digital itinerary here
Useful info How to get thereTips and notesWildlife

How to get there

Flights to Katavi and Mahale

Starting and ending in Arusha (also available from Dar-es-Salaam on request). We advise a night in Arusha before the start of the safari; this is not included in the price of the safari.

Tips and notes


  • 1 night half board at Onsea House
  • 4 nights full board at Chada Katavi Camp
  • 3 nights full board at Greystoke Mahale Camp
  • Katavi, Tanzania’s third largest park is wild, remote and seen by not much more than 1000 visitors each year
  • game drives and walking safaris to view outstanding resident game – elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, giraffe, roan sable, large lion prides, chimpanzees
  • enjoy the white beaches and crystal clear waters of Lake Tanganyika
  • Mahale offers the best chimp viewing experience in Africa
  • motorised Dhow boat transfers on Lake Tanganyika
  • excellent camp locations
  • scheduled inter camp flights and transfers
  • domestic departure taxes


  • International flights
  • night drives
  • additional airlines taxes
  • insurances
  • gratuities and items of a personal nature.


Best time for predators, Crocodiles and hippos in Katavi is during October and November, with the rains usually commencing mid-November.

Best for birds in Katavi is from late September through the rainy season. The best month for photography is in June when the Katavi skies are light.

Chimps are probably most difficult during in June and February when they tend to be quite high in the mountains; the best time to visit is during September/October/November when the chimps are usually in the foothills.

If you can be flexible plan a trip during October/November/December. Katavi’s low season rates run from November to camp closure in February. Low season in Mahale is during November/December – excluding Christmas and New Year period.

Let the Zambezi team help you

We're well established "can-do" professionals for whom Africa is home turf offering unrivalled local connections on the ground supported by a wider network closer to you.

We're on hand to help wherever you are. Just drop a note right here...

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