KATAVI NATIONAL PARK
Katavi National Park is found in the western part of Tanzania at a distance of about 40km south of Mpanda town. Formally the park was a game reserve and thereafter it was transformed into a park in 1974. Katavi National Park has a size of about 1,823km2 originally in 1997 but it was extended to 4,471km2. The size of the park makes it to be the third largest national park after Ruaha and Serengeti. Being the third in size the park is the least visited National Park in Tanzania and makes it a truly untouched as well as safe and sound wildlife paradise. Katavi National Park is fed by the Katuma River which in the rainy seasons during the month of April and May transforms the large part of the park into wetland.
The park also has the seasonal lakes which are found within its boundaries, these lakes are Lake Chada and Lake Katavi. The park also hosts varieties of diversified vegetation species such as bush land, Miombo forests, riverine forests as well as grasslands. Because of the climatic condition at the park as well as the infrastructure around it, the Katavi National Park can be easily visited during the dry season particularly in the months between June and October.
Most animals can be seen nearby Katavi River as the main sources of water that feed the park during the dry season. Structures along the river give lifeline for creatures both large and small when they congregate for drink and bath. When the lakes and swamps get dried, a thousand hippos will be easily seen huddling together for the last bit of water. Large crocodiles can also be seen basking in the sun or in the remaining mud pools with hippos.
With wonderful vegetation along the park, The Katisunga plains in the heart of the park that attracts large numbers of wild animals and it is one of the few parks where visitors can experience indication of both the roan and sable antelopes living in the same place. Other animals grazing together in the park are zebra, giraffe, hartebeest, eland and defassa waterbuck. Katavi National Park is also one of the last parks that boast massive herds of buffalo and Zebras. Some herds are easily reaching a thousand animals or more. A big population of about 3000 elephants also resides in the park. Carnivorous animals such as cheetahs, hyenas, jackals and servals are also present in the area and the resident prides of lions are always around looking for their next meal. Leopards also call Katavi home.
Katavi National Park hosts over 400 species of birds. If one wants to have a brilliant occasion on bird viewing, Katavi National Park is a greatly recommended place for birdwatchers. Large groups of storks like saddle bills, Bateleurs, open-billed and spoon bills as well as African fish eagles, lilac breasted rollers, crested barbets and paradise flycatchers are found within the Katavi National Park.