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Katavi Nationa Park





About the Park

It was the people of mpanda District in Rukwa Region, who urged the government to raise the status of this area to that of a national park. This was to ensure that this piece of land would remain a national heritage for their children to enjoy.


For Tanzania National Parks, this is the best possible indicatin of the success the authority has managed to achieve in seeking greater public understanding of the people’s role in the parks. Indeed this is Tanzania but the world over.

Funds for initial development were donated by the Frankfurt Zoological Society, German.The name Katavi comes from the legendary hunter-Katavi ( for whomthe park is named).




The park may be reached by using the kigoma to mbeya road which passes through katavi. There are airstrips inside the park for visitors using light aircraft. The airstrips are at sitalike, ikuu, mlele and Msaginya.


A branch line of the kigoma – Dar es salaam railway terminates in mpanda, from where visitors are taken into waiting vehicles and driven to sitaliked – The main entrance gate. Another entrance gate is at Kanyamakaa.

The Current Headquarters of the park at sitalike ( to be relocated  to mlele), maintains radio contact with the Tanzania National parks Headquarters in Arusha and the wildlife Division in Dar es salaam. They are also able to contact other stations in protected areas throughout Tanzania.

The best time to visit the park is between may and October, Roads within the park are often flooded during the rainly season but may be passable from mid December to February.


The katavi National park protects large parts of important catchments for lake rukwa. These include Katuma, kavuu, lukima and Rungwa rivers. Within the par, there are spectacular waterfalls occurring in places where the cross the eastern side of the rukwa fift.


The miombo woodland covers a large part of the area; however the alluvial plains support extensive areas of mixed woodland. There are also a diverse range of spectacular landscapes which include the open grassland plains as well as the mlele excarpment and the wogo hils in rukwa Game Reserve and lake rukwa.




The establishment of this park took into consideration the following salient features:
The protection and conservation of the miombo woodland
The protection and conservation of certain species of animals not found other places
To protect and conserve lakes katavi and chada
To protect and conserve breeding areas for animals of the katavi ecosystem
To protect and conserve the beautiful scenery, the high density of hippos, and a variety of wetlands and miombo woodland bird species To ensure perpetuation of an area important for wildlife research and studies.


With the benefit of hindsight, the major attractions in the park, therefore, include lake katavi with its vast, short grassed flood plains in the north; palm fringed lake chada in the south-east and the katuma river which connects the two lakes. The park is mainly flat or undulating with low hills in the northern section of the area.


The floodplains are covered with black cotton soil but the rest of the park consists of sandy soils.

The noteworthy fauna include: Buffalo, zebra, hippo, waterbuck, impala, elephant, roan, sable, giraffe, hartebeest, topi, puku etc. Chimpanzees have been sighted between katavi – Rukwa and mahale mountains National park. This could be an added attraction in the future. For bird  watchers, Katavi is a paradise. At least 400 different species of birds have been recorded in the area.


They include:-
The African skimmer
Carmine bee – Eater
Racket tailed roller
Miombo bush warbler
Collared palm thrush
Palm nut vulture  etc .. etc
The different types of habitats which include extensive wetlands make katavi National park one of the best locations for bird lovers
On  the other hand, Large numbers of crocodiles inhabit the katuma and kapapa rivers which flow into lake chada.

Interestingly, as a survival response to the drying up of lake chada, the crocodiles in this area make use of burrows along the katuma and kapapa channels during unfavourable conditions.