Katavi National Park & Lupita Island

Remote, wild, untouched and phenomenal. Both Katavi and Lupita Island provide an exclusive experience, away from the masses in an untouched corner of western Tanzania.

I've never seen so many hippos squeezed into a muddy pool. They looked like smooth rocks until they got crotchety and bared their teeth!

  • Landscape of Katavi National Park, Tanzania © AGMarks

    Landscape of Katavi National Park, Tanzania

  • On the edge of the hippo pool at Katavi National Park, Tanzania © AGMarks

    On the edge of the hippo pool at Katavi National Park, Tanzania

  • A muddy Katavi hippo pool, Tanzania © AGMarks

    A muddy Katavi hippo pool, Tanzania

  • Unlikely friends: a hippo and crocodile in Katavi National Park, Tanzania © AGMarks

    Unlikely friends: a hippo and crocodile in Katavi National Park, Tanzania

  • A crocodile in a cave in Katavi National Park, Tanzania © NGreaves,Shutterstock

    A crocodile in a cave in Katavi National Park, Tanzania

  • Vervet monkey in Katavi National Park, Tanzania © AGMarks

    Vervet monkey in Katavi National Park, Tanzania

  • A lazy leopard in Katavi, Tanzania © AGMarks

    A lazy leopard in Katavi, Tanzania

  • Topi in Katavi National Park, Tanzania © AGMarks

    Topi in Katavi National Park, Tanzania

  • Giraffes in Katavi National Park, Tanzania © AGMarks

    Giraffes in Katavi National Park, Tanzania

  • Crocodile in a river at Katavi National Park, Tanzania © AGMarks

    Crocodile in a river at Katavi National Park, Tanzania

  • Sunset in Katavi National Park, Tanzania © AGMarks

    Sunset in Katavi National Park, Tanzania

  • Beach excursion at Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania © Lupita Island

    Beach excursion at Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania

  • Exploring Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania © Lupita Island

    Exploring Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania

  • Fishing at Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania © Lupita Island

    Fishing at Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania

  • Villagers on Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania © Lupita Island

    Villagers on Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania

  • Deck at Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania © Lupita Island

    Deck at Lupita Island on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

For many safari-goers escaping the crowds is a must and a trip to Katavi National Park can offer just that. The inaccessibility of this reserve in western Tanzania makes it pricey to reach, but for safari-aficionados it is a true gem. You’ll be one of very few visitors (it gets only around 700 visitors a year) so you’ll have the place almost to yourself. This is exclusive wildlife watching.

Katavi really comes into its own in the dry season when game viewing is excellent.  Large prides of lion stalking huge buffalo herds is not uncommon, hippos huddle in drying mud pools, and crocodiles hide in caves from the searing heat.

Top off your visit to Katavi with a stay on Lupita Island, a private island in Lake Tanganyika, just 120 miles west of Katavi. Then it’s time to kick back in the lap of luxury spending your time relaxing on the beach, snorkelling, kayaking and exploring the island’s trails.

These are not the easiest places to get to but those who make the effort will not be disappointed.

  • Katavi’s wildlife:  The wildlife viewing here is remarkable. There are impressive herds of buffalo and thousands of elephants. Lions, hyena and the more elusive leopard and wild dog represent the predators. Zebras are here in their thousands along with topi, impala, hartebeest, waterbuck and giraffe. You also get sable and roan antelopes. There are no rhinos here.
    For most visitors, a key wildlife highlight of Katavi is the incredible hippo pools where hundreds of hippos squeeze themselves into dwindling muddy quagmires in the dry season. Another unusual feature is that the crocodiles here have caves where they hang out in the hottest times!
  • Katavi’s birds:   Birding is good in the park with plenty of raptors but also saddlebill and spoonbill storks, pelicans and cranes. The woodlands attract plenty of birdlife too so there’s always something vying for your attention. The very best time for birdlife here is the wet season when migratory species are present (November to April), though few visitors come at that time.
  • Best time for Katavi: The wildlife viewing is at its best in the dry season (July to October) and it seldom disappoints. It tends to be quite wet from November to April (and sometimes into May) so both travels to and around the park is hard and the wildlife is very dispersed and hard to find, though the birdwatching is excellent.
    See our Guide to the best time to go to Tanzania.
  • Lupita:  The views from Lupita Island are exquisite both above and below the waterline. This remote and private island is the perfect getaway in western Tanzania, a great addition to Katavi but also considering adding it after Ruaha or the Serengeti.
Katavi National Park & Lupita Island map pin

Katavi National Park & Lupita Island

On the edge of the hippo pool at Katavi National Park, Tanzania

Remote, wild, untouched and phenomenal. Both Katavi and Lupita Island provide an exclusive experience, away from the masses in an untouched corner of western Tanzania.

Learn more