Tanzania is a case of success regarding Nature conservation and endangerous species protection. The country soon understood that they have been presented with some of the greatest natural wonders to be found on Earth. And quickly they learned how to conserve them and take good care of them.
In fact, many conservation works have been done here, specially those related with fighting Elephant Hunting and saving one of the most endangerous species in the world, the Black Rhino. Jane Goodall also become famous for her pioneer work with the Chimpanzees at Gombe Stream National Park.
Blessed by nature with 14 national parks (there are even more, but these ones are the most famous) one can found everything in Tanzania. Tanzania is what comes to your mind when you think of Africa. There are parks that are as large as many european countries like the Serengeti National park and Selous Game Reserve. There are parks, like Katavi National Park or Ruaha National Park that are so untouched by humans they reassemble the descriptions of Africa by white hunters and missionaires who came here centuries ago. Parks where you can have a million of acres just for yourself and see more lions than people. There are parks like Gombe Stream National Park or Mahale Mountains National Park where you will be able to see large groups of Chimpanzees and Gorillas. There are parks like Saadani National park where you can join pristine beaches and the wild bush. Other parks, such as Ngorongoro Conservation Area with its Ngorongoro Crater have a beauty that is so stunning, so breathtaking that it is impossible to put into words. And what about Kilimanjaro National Park? Where you can see giraffes with the world's tallest free standing mountain, the roof of Africa, in the background?
Well, there are really parks for every taste and interest and we haven't even spoke about Zanzibar, with world class beaches of white sand and turquoise warm water. Tanzania is definitely one of the top destinations of the world.
In the following map, you can see the 14 national parks. To learn more about each one and see what we recommend, move your mouse over the map and click in one park.
Katavi National Park
This park is one of the remotest in Tanzania and probably the most untouched reserve in the whole of Africa. If one would read the 200 years old descriptions of Africa by ancient white hunters and missionaries, this would be the only place that still fits in. You can drive for hours without seeing a single car, it will be all for you. It just can't get wilder than this.
It is one of the largest national parks in Tanzania and lies within the Rukwa rift, an extension of the main western rift valley that culminates in Lake Rukwa basin. The rivers Katuma and Kapapa cross the park and converge to become the Katu river, the major effluent of lake Rukwa. During the rainy season, these rivers run through large, shallow depressions of yellow grass transforming them into lush marshes of shallow lakes (lake Katavi and lake Chada) during the peak of the rainy season. Wildlife converges here during the dry season making Katavi a great dry season reserve.
This park has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. Thousands of buffalos, antelopes and elephants can be found in the park and provide feeding opportunities to the hundreds of prides of lions and other predators sharing the habitat. There are also good chances of viewing the rare species of cheetah and wild dogs. Other predators include leopards and hyenas. Other species would be zebras, eland, topi, impala, hartebeest, waterbucks, giraffe, reedbuck and defassa.
One of the most spectacular things about this park is the huge number of hippos converging on any stretch of the river. In fact, Katavi has one of the densest population of hippos in Tanzania but, during the dry season, instead of being spread over a wide deep river as in the Nile, they are squeezed in a shallow stream, flopped all over each other like seals at a breeding colony. This provides an incredible experience that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The river is also full of crocodiles.
There's still the interesting birdlife at Katavi, which includes the yellow-billed, the open-billed and saddle-billed stork, Africa spoonbills, pink-backed pelicans, fish eagles, battlers and white-backed vultures.
When to go
Very hard to visit during the rain season. The best time to visit would be from May to October.
What to do
4x4 game drives
What we suggest
It's expensive to visit and difficult to access (best way would be flying as the roads are terrible). It's also very very rough, tough and rugged. But if it is within your budget and you can manage to spend at least 3 to 4 days there then, by all means, please come. This is probably the greatest secret of Africa, one of the top Africa destinations, if not the best. It's the only place in the world where you may see more lions than people. No one ever goes there and does not come truly amazed by this park.