Chada Katavi is the place for the wildlife connoisseur, and the traveler who thinks the African bush can offer up no more surprises. Happily indulged, watching the elephants head out to water as dusk falls, you feel like one of the last great pioneers; binoculars in your hand, Africa filling your head. Chada Katavi sits on the edge of the wide Chada Plain, under a canopy of acacia and tamarind trees. It is a magnet for game, with the best game-viewing seen often from your tent veranda.
Katavi is as dramatic as anywhere you’ll ever see, and this is what they try to reflect. Life as an adventure, the world as a living, breathing thing: Man as a detail.
Katavi National Park remains one of the greatest wildlife experiences of Africa. Miles from anywhere, it has an almost mythical status and, it’s thought, a greater density of mammals than any other Tanzanian reserve. Rivers groan with hippopotamus and crocodiles, and massed on the plains are the last great herds of buffalo in East Africa, up to 1000 head.
Katavi belongs to the beasts of Africa, it always has. As if they were created here, and the primeval soup still runs through its veins. Almost everywhere you look there’s something grazing, bellowing, fighting, mating, hunting. Days on the hoof in Katavi can be wild beyond belief.
Chada Katavi has been Man’s retreat for a decade; hidden on a shady spit of acacias and tamarinds on the edge of the Chada plain. The ropes were hammered in ten years ago – the only camp in a million wild acres – it has evolved into a rather civilized campaign HQ.
Hidden in the trees that flank it are just six guest tents with fine wooden furniture, woven rugs and beds spread with crisp white Egyptian cotton. The tents are large, romantic and airy and the bathrooms bush deluxe. The six traditional East African safari tents follow the line of the edge of the plain. The tents are wide and spacious, with large shade net windows to let in light and air. The private bathroom tents are set just behind, and have traditional bucket showers and long drop toilets. Hot and cold water is available on request.
At dinnertime, the mess is nothing short of splendid, silverware gleaming and glasses shining in the lamplight.
Days on the hoof in Katavi can be wild beyond belief, and Chada Katavi is the perfect place to return to after a day of safari adventure. Steaming hot showers await, and the thoroughly good white wine on your porch table is perfectly chilled.
Chada Katavi is situated in the core of Katavi National Park, in western Tanzania. It is said to be one of the wildest places on earth. Filling the floor of the Rukwa Valley – a minor fault of the western rift – Katavi National Park spans over a million acres, and due to its remoteness is one of the least visited parks in Tanzania. Across these plains run the last great herds of buffalo in east Africa.
From December to February, Katavi is green and lush after the short rains, with great elephant and plains game sightings. It’s a fantastic time for birding, and everywhere you look the plains are covered in wildflowers.
In May and June, it’s still green and lush after the long rains, and this is a wonderful time of year to visit.
From July to October, the weather is getting hotter as the plains dry out. The rivers and pools are drying up which concentrates the game in specific areas making for amazing sightings of animals, particularly the crocs and hippos who congregate in their masses in the pools.
Daily game drives in 4WD vehicles, fly camping under the stars, outstanding birding, and walking safaris.
There are few humans present in this wildlife paradise. You can drive for miles, follow any game anywhere you want for as long as you like, and go as far as the eye can see. Or stay absolutely still watching the procession of animals as they wander across the flood plains in front of the camp.
You can spend nights out in lightweight fly camps – bedrolls unrolled under mosquito nets below borassus palms. Fabulous bush cuisine is served in your remote hide-away, and the bucket shower – with piping hot water – leaves you feeling fresh and ready for dinner under the stars.
Walking safaris take you even deeper into Katavi´s untamed world. Rare roan and sable antelope, normally skittish and shy, graze openly on these plains. On foot, experience another side of Africa, that which would often take flight at the sound of an approaching vehicle. The game is unbelievable with sightings of elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, crocodiles and hippo amongst many others.
And then at the end of a day of adventure and discovery, you return to the creature comforts and welcoming fireside of Chada Katavi.
How to Get There – Access is only by aircraft using their shared charter flights, which operate on Mondays and Thursdays only (from Arusha), or by private charter. The nearest airstrip is Ikuu, a 20 minute drive from Chada Katavi.
Child Policy - They accept children of 8 and over at Chada Katavi. Please note however, there is a restriction of 12 and over for any walking or fly camping activities.
Gratuities – Most people will leave around $10 per person per day, which then gets split amongst the general staff, with the guides being tipped separately. Obviously tipping is not taken for granted, but if you’ve had a fantastic safari and would like to leave something for the guys, then great. The Lodge asks however, that any tips should be left in cash.