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Ruaha, Katavi and Mahale

11 days from £8550pp plus international flights.

This is a safari that takes you to remote Tanzania, a region of vast plains where huge herds of elephant and buffalo roam, and you'll have these sights all to yourself! As well as game drives and guided walks you'll sail on Lake Tanganikya in a traditional dhow and spend magical time with a group of wild chimpanzees.

Your safari starts in Ruaha, a park with dramatic landscapes including savanna, wooded hills and centuries-old baobab trees. This is raw Africa, a true wilderness where you'll see giraffe, elephant, zebra and buffalo in abundance, and whose waters support hippo and crocodile. Lovers of big cats will thrill to the sight of lion, leopard and cheetah, and there are good chances of spotting wild dog.

Due west, Katavi National Park is so remote that few people have the chance to visit. You'll have 3 full days here to experience this wild region, with its seasonal rivers and floodplains. Your safaris will centre round the all-important water sources, where hundreds of animals gather to drink, while lions and hyenas watch, biding their time. This is a great place to watch hippos gathering in groups of up to 200 in water pools.

After these sweeping plains you'll be whisked off to Lake Tanganyika to enjoy restful dhow cruises, kayak trips and forest walks. The highlight, though, is sure to be your encounter with the chimpanzees. There are very few places you can observe chimps in the wild, so this is a rare privilege and once you'll enjoy not once, but twice on this amazing holiday.

You'll be staying in small camps which combine comfort and simplicity, in keeping with their rustic locations.

This is a very special safari in some unique spots in Africa. It'll be hard to beat this one.



When you arrive at Dar es Salaam airport you will be met and taken the short distance to the domestic terminal for the flight to Msembe airstrip in Ruaha. You'll be met on arrival and driven to Kigelia Camp, your home for the next 3 nights. Having unpacked your bags and enjoyed lunch, you'll be taken out on a game drive to introduce you to the scenery and wildlife of Ruaha National Park. Your guide will make sure you're back in time for a hot shower before drinks by the campfire and a delicious dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.



While at Kigelia you'll be offered twice daily drives in customised 4 x 4 vehicles, allowing you plenty of time to encounter Ruaha's varied game. After the morning drive you'll return to camp to sit out the hottest part of the day and enjoy a freshly-prepared lunch. In the afternoon you'll have time to catch up with some reading or sleep before afternoon tea, then heading back out into the park in the late afternoon. You'll also be able to search for nocturnal species on a night drive while at Kigelia. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.



The terrain in Ruaha includes plains, hills and dry riverbeds which attract different animals. On the plains you may spot herds of buffalo and see the distinctive silhouette of giraffe, while the riverbeds provide shelter for species such as elephant and kudu. Predators include lion, leopard and cheetah. Bird life is prolific, too, and game drives are never short of excitement. Even in camp you may be treated to the sight of elephants wandering past. Tonight you'll enjoy your last dinner at Kigelia. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.



Bid the staff at Kigelia farewell before you head back to Msembe airstrip for the early morning flight to Katavi. Look out for elephants and buffalo on the plains as you enjoy lunch. Later you'll get to know the area with a walk led by a knowledgeable guide and accompanied by an armed scout, to whet your appetite for more exploring tomorrow. You'll return in time for sundowners by the camp fire followed by dinner in the mess tent. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. 

walking safari


Today you can travel further afield on a game drive, to observe the herds of elephant and buffalo that populate the plains of Katavi, an awe-inspiring sight. At sunset, your guide will find a special location for sundowner drinks, and you'll have time to savour both the refreshments and the view, before returning to Chada Katavi for dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. 



Katavi's remote location means that very few people visit, so you'll have it almost to yourself! This is a landscape of broad flood plains and seasonal rivers. The rivers tend to the focus of a safari, attracting game and predators alike, especially in the dry season when water is scarce. During the rainy season (mid-November to early June) the scenery is transformed as the land is covered with rich grass and the rivers flow. This is an excellent time for bird spotting. While at Chada Katavi you'll also be offered the chance to go on a night drive, to see another aspect of the region. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

elephants in the distance


Another day to experience the wilderness of Katavi. What better way to start your day than with an early morning game drive, stopping along the way to enjoy a tasty breakfast in the bush. Back in camp you'll be served lunch and can then have a siesta. While here you'll have the opportunity to go fly camping, walking to your camp where you'll have drinks by the fire, and spending a memorable night beneath the stars. Fly camping needs to be booked in advance. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

dhow cruise


Today you'll fly to Mahale, a journey of about an hour. On arrival you'll board a dhow for the 90 minute ride on Lake Tanganyika to Greystoke Mahale, arriving in time for lunch. The rest of the day is free for you to do as you wish. You'll have the option of a dhow cruise on the lake, trying your hand at fishing, going for a short hike near the camp or simply resting on the beach. Later you can mingle with fellow guests in the bar before sitting down to dinner within sight of the lake. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.



It's chimp trekking day! This is one of the few places in the world you can see chimpanzees in the wild and after breakfast by the lake you'll set off with a scout and tracker in search of Mahale's chimps. Your walk will take you along trails, culminating with the first exciting sighting. You'll spend a magical hour with these creatures, watching them forage for food and play amongst themselves, before you head back to the lodge for lunch. Take life easy in the afternoon, maybe going for a swim in the lake. Later enjoy dinner under the starry African sky. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.



You have another opportunity to seek and out and spend time with the chimps. There are about 800 chimpanzees in the park, 60 or so of which form the semi-habituated M group, the ones you will see. As their location varies from day to day you may need to walk quite a long way to find them, stopping for snacks along the way, but your efforts pay off as you see and hear them. Have lunch back at the lodge, and maybe take the chance for a last cruise on the dhow to enjoy some lovely lake views. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.



This morning you'll enjoy a leisurely breakfast before boarding the dhow for the cruise back to the airstrip and the flight back to Kilimanjaro, where your holiday concludes. Breakfast.

Price & Dates

Guide price from (pp sharing): £8550 (ex. international flights)

Price notes: 

2020 guide price pp based on 2 sharing

05 Jan - 15 Mar, 01 – 30 Jun & 01 Nov - 20 Dec 2020 from £8550
01 - 04 Jan, 01 Jul – 31 Oct & 21 - 31 Dec 2020 from £11845


Transfer from Dar airport to domestic terminal, transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport; scheduled flights Dar to Ruaha, and Ruaha to Katavi, shared charter flights Katavi to Mahale and Mahale to Kilimanjaro; transport as specified; meals as specified; house drinks at Nomad camps; laundry at Nomad camps; shared game drives and walks at Kigelia Camp and Chada Katavi; 1 chimp trek per day, forest walks, boat trips and snorkelling at Greystoke Mahale; 11 days flying doctor evacuation cover.


Flights and taxes; meals not specified; non-house drinks at Nomad camps; fishing trips at Greystoke Mahale; visas; travel insurance; items of a personal nature; tips.

Getting there: 

This holiday starts and ends at Kilimanjaro International Airport. Return flights from the UK will cost from £700-950 depending on season and availability. We usually book these for you.

places you will see

places you will see

Arusha National Park & town
Arusha National Park & town
Arusha is the hub town for northern circuit safaris. Arusha Reserve makes a pleasant day’s outing from here, or we can take you further into Maasai land to Longido.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park
Tanzania’s largest park has only 9 lodges so expect real exclusivity on your safari. Scenic Ruaha is notable for excellent predator sightings; lions, leopards, cheetahs - and vast numbers of elephants.
Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park
This small park in western Tanzania is wild, untouched, exclusive and phenomenal.  It offers some of the best game viewing in Africa in the dry season.  
 

holidays with heart
holidays with heart

How this holiday helps

This is an expensive trip, but as well as providing you with a truly amazing wildlife experience, it helps change lives.

This is simply one of the best African safaris you could choose. In addition, the company which owns all three of the lodges used on this trip make great efforts to make a difference to their surroundings and people in their sphere of influence. 

For example they micro-finance their guides to buy their own vehicles, then hire both the guide and the vehicle so that the guides earn more. They also recruit and train internally, giving their staff the best possible chances to succeed in their careers. And then there is the trust fund through which they help local communities with things such as education, health and income-generating projects like training street kids to become expert carpenters.

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facts and information

Time: GMT +3 hours

Flight time: Flights from UK to Tanzania take about 9 hours direct or 10-11 with a brief stopover en route if from Europe.

Language: Kiswahili and English are Tanzania's official languages. Although most people in the cities speak some English, a few phrases of Kiswahili are useful in more rural areas.

Visas: Most nationalities require a Tanzania visa, obtainable from the High Commission in London (or on arrival into International Airport.

Health: Most nationalities require a Tanzania visa, obtainable from the High Commission in London (or on arrival into International Airport.



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