Katavi and Mahale
Katavi and Mahale offer stark contrasts, diverse habitats and a safari experience you’ll find hard to match anywhere in Africa. It’s remote, expensive and seriously rewarding. There’s outstanding resident game in the rarely visited and truly wild Katavi park. Wild chimpanzees abound within the deep forests of Mahale on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Katavi National Park
This place is rough, rugged and extreme in so many respects. It’s the country’s third largest park with impressive populations of elephant, buffalo, topi and zebra. Giraffe, roan, sable, eland and other plains game is plentiful and the predators are as good as you’ll find anywhere in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe or elsewhere in East Africa.
Before November’s short-rains, a hippo population that surpasses the Luangwa and Zambezi river densities by far positively fills an expansive mud wallow in the Ikuu River. It’s the time of year when massive crocodiles stack one on top of the other in river bank caves to aestivate. The park has a 420 strong bird list…the list goes on.
Mahale Mountains National Park
Next stop, there’s little to prepare one for the huge contrast that awaits arrival in Mahale. It’s a short flight due north west over the Mahale Mountains to a small airstrip on the edge of Lake Tanganyika followed by a motorised dhow for another 90 minutes down to Kangwena beach. The nearest road point is 100km away.
Lake Tanganyika is the largest body of freshwater in Africa, a mile deep (second deepest in the world), with around 50 incoming rivers and one outgoing, a pH of around 8 and no algal growth, its waters are crystal clear – the colour of gin! Bounded by Congo jungle on its opposite shore, the Tanzanian side has this great towering Mahale range rising up around 2500m to Nkungwe Peak. This is a seriously dramatic beach spot – white beaches, clear fresh waters and verdant forests.
Roland Purcell who established Greystoke had a moment of truth on the Lake Tanganyika shoreline in June 1988 – in his own words, “..if I dare put an imprint on this paradise I had better get it right”. We think that he did…
If you were looking for the holy grail of African safaris Katavi and Mahale is where you’d find it … just as the November rains are about to break.
Ask an expert
We've helped first-timers and seasoned travellers in Africa since 1995. We can help you take advantage of mainstream options.
Better still we'll show you how and where to step off well beaten paths for the more interesting journeys.
Drop a note right here...
...encounters in Katavi & Mahale
Living in social communities in Central African rain forests they’re best seen in Uganda, Tanzania and the Congo. Their varied diet consists of fruits and plants, insects, meat and eggs. Chimps can stand and walk upright but mostly “knuckle walk” on all fours. With over 98 percent of human genetic blueprint it’s thought that our common ancestor lived between 4 to 8 million years ago.
Celebrated in history for their courage and strength when they roamed most of Africa, parts of Asia and Europe. Nowadays the best places to see lions on safari are the Zambezi, Hwange, Okavango and Linyanti – ideally May to November; Queen Elizabeth NP’s Ishasha area for tree-climbing lions; Katavi’s Kapapa River in September to November; Kidepo Valley
Largest land animals on earth, the African elephant used to range widely through sub-Saharan Africa. Despite being threatened by habitat loss and ivory poaching African elephants have healthy populations in east and southern Africa. Best places to see elephants include Mana Pools and Hwange, Chobe and Linyanti, the Luangwa Valley, Selous, Katavi and Amboseli.