I would consider putting my experience on budget travel to Katavi
This National park is accessible by train from Dar to either Mbeya or Tabora or Kigoma, If you head to Mbeya by bus you connect by sumry bus to Mpanda via stalike or if you did the train to Tabora you can drive from Tabora to Mpanda for katavi and lastly the last train option is to get to Kigoma by train and drive over land to Mpanda too
My approach in December was flight from Dar-es-salam to Kigoma on arrival transfer to Mapinduzi hotel, on arrival we were met by Hamisi who is the driver guide i usually use when am to do Katavi with a drive from Kigoma to Uvindza via the forest to Mpanda and finaly to stalike. This drive is almost 10hrs and the route is not very smooth so an early take off from either side when undertaking is advisable
The main reason as to why i seldon visit Katavi is because am expecting to see the following
-High habitat and species diversity with high concentrations of large mammals
-Extensive wetlands and important water catchments areas
-Wilderness character: The Katavi-Rukwa-Lukwati protected area complex still retains a distinct wilderness character.
-Interesting vegetation mosaic ranging from wetlands and lakes to riverine vegetation and various types of woodlands and shrublands (e.g. the woodlands of the inselbergs of Kapimbye, Kapapa and Igongwe)
-Home to some endangered and unusual species: wild dog, chetaahs (mostly seen in Mbuga ya Duma) roan and sable antelopes (e.g. in the woods of Ilumbi), eland (often encountered at lake Katavi, Kaselami Mbuga, the northern Chada plain, Kataukasi and Kakonje Mbugas)
-Historical and cultural resources: The Karema-Inyonga-Tabora slave route passed through the protected area complex. Stone age and iron age sites, sites of 19th century towns, Wamweru Hills and Katabi tree (14 km from the airstrip)
Scenic diversity with escarpments, rugged hills, flat alluvial plains, marshes, lakes and rivers. Scenic spots are: hot springs, waterfalls Ndido, Chorangwa, Lukima, Iloba, and beautiful views from the top of the escarpment down into the Rukwa valley (e.g. the view of the steep Mlele escarpment close to Mpunga Mbuga).
-Large herds of animals at Magogo Pools, Lake Katavi, Ilyandi sandridge, Katisunga Mbuga and Kasima Springs, Lake Chada.
-Katuma valley, Paradise springs in dry season
-Hippo schools at Ikuu springs, Ikuu bridge and Sitalike. Crocodiles are found in large numbers in the Katuma riverbed and at the Ikuu bridge in caves as well as in Kapapa River, Rungwa River and Ndido falls.
Apart from all the above mentioned expected to be seen in Katavi if you actually ask me why seldom i do visit Katavi i have two major reason
1.It is the only National park that you can drive for 4-5hours in the park seeing very many animals without a single another tourist car doing game drive
2.It is this national park where buffaloes and elephants migrate in herds from one plain to another in very large groups which am i do believe can be seen any other park in Tanzania
I highly recommend every interested with real taste of Flora and fauna to give Katavi a priority you will never be annoyed by the game there.
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