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Katavi, Tanzania

Wild West: Katavi and Mahale

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

9 Days

Prices Start from

$9,454pp (ex. flights)

This unusual safari combines two of Tanzania’s remotest and least visited parks. Spot lions and buffalos on the floodplains of Katavi, before encountering chimpanzees on the forested slopes of the Mahale Mountains, within sight of Lake Tanganyika.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Chimpanzee, Mahale National Park, Tanzania 1

Chimp Trekking

Encounter a family of wild chimps, spending time watching them interact.

Sundowners, Chada Katavi, Katavi National Park 2

Fly Camping

Sleep out in the wilderness of Katavi, under a star-filled sky.

Picnic on the Dhow, Greystoke Mahale, Mahale National Park, Tanzania 3

Sundowner Dhow

Float on Lake Tanganyika as the sun sets, with a drink in hand.

Katavi, Tanzania 4

Lions Hunting

Watch lions stalking buffalos on Katavi’s grassy plains.

Why we like it

This is the trip for those who have been to the Serengeti, Ruaha and Selous. These parks show a different side of Tanzania – one that can be challenging but also immensely rewarding. It is the unpredictability and untamed nature of these parks – not always positive traits – that makes them so appealing.

Explore our suggested itinerary

Tanzania on your wishlist? Talk to our experts about tailoring this trip for you.

  • Day 1

    Arusha

  • Day 2

    Arusha - Katavi National Park

  • Days 3-5

    Katavi National Park

  • Day 6

    Katavi National Park - Mahale National Park

  • Days 7-8

    Mahale National Park

  • Day 9

    Mahale National Park - Arusha

Day 1

Arusha

Day 2

Arusha - Katavi National Park

Katavi, Tanzania

Lions Hunting

Watch lions stalking buffalos on Katavi’s grassy plains.

Days 3-5

Katavi National Park

Fly camping, Chada Katavi, Katavi, Tanzania

Fly Camping

Sleep out in the wilderness of Katavi, under a star-filled sky.

Day 6

Katavi National Park - Mahale National Park

Picnic on the Dhow, Greystoke Mahale, Mahale National Park, Tanzania

Sundowner Dhow

Float on Lake Tanganyika as the sun sets, with a drink in hand.

Days 7-8

Mahale National Park

Chimpanzee, Mahale National Park, Tanzania

Chimp Trekking

Encounter a family of wild chimps, spending time watching them interact.

Day 9

Mahale National Park - Arusha

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Game drive with hippos, Chada Katavi, Katavi National Park
Chada Katavi, Katavi National Park, Tanzania

Katavi Safari

Fly from Arusha to the incredibly remote Katavi National Park. One of East Africa’s least explored parks, Katavi is dominated by floodplains, the meandering Katuma River and acacia woodlands.

This beautiful ecosystem is home to healthy populations of zebras, buffaloes, wildebeests and elephants, as well as numerous predators. These include cheetahs, lions, hyenas and leopards. Wild dogs are also said to roam the park.

Fly camping, Chada Katavi, Katavi, Tanzania
Katavi, Tanzania

Fly Camping

As well as driving and walking, have the option to fly camp – something that makes an already wild park feel even wilder.

Set out into this wilderness in the late afternoon, hiking across the grassy plains. Arrive at the preprepared fly camp just before sunset, in the golden light of dusk. After a meal cooked over an open fire, lie down beneath a mosquito net, with the sounds of the bush surrounding you as darkness descends.

chimp, Mahale, Tanzania
Mahale National Park, Tanzania

Chimpanzee Trekking

Get close to one of the last populations of wild chimps in Tanzania, which survive on the thickly forested slopes of Mahale Mountains National Park. Trek in search of these primates, observing their behaviour and photographing them.

Greystoke Mahale is within hiking distance of the 60 strong M-group, one of the most habituated groups on the continent. As a result, the experience here is remarkable. However, it is a privilege you have to earn, thanks to the park’s remote location and the tough nature of the trekking.

View from Lake, Greystoke Mahale, Mahale National Park, Tanzania
Greystoke Mahale, Mahale National Park, Tanzania

Lake Tanganyika

Mahale Mountains National Park is set against the emerald waters of Lake Tanganyika. Stay between lake and forest, in the rustic Greystoke Mahale. After the strenuous trekking, spend time here relaxing in front of the lake.

Explore the lake by kayak or set out in the traditional dhow at sunset, with drinks and snacks to accompany the spectacular views.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Mantadia Lodge £££££

  • Madagascar
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

The most stylish and contemporary option in Andasibe, Mantadia Lodge is a lovely base from which to explore the area. It perches on the side of a low hill, looking out over a mixture of farmland and forest. The lodge is formed of 25 beautifully designed rooms and is well located for exploring both Andasibe and Mantadia national parks.

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Thermal Hotel £££££

  • Madagascar

The Thermal Hotel is the newest lodge in Ranomafana, having been completely refurbished. It benefits from its location in the centre of town – perfect for those who like to explore. The 21 rooms are split into three large blocks, and whilst the size of the buildings makes the interiors seem a little empty, the rooms are very clean and comfortable, with pine panels lending the place a decidedly wood-cabin feel. The restaurant is excellent and many people come here from outside the hotel to eat. What it lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for in service, food and efficiency.

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Machangulo Beach Lodge £££££

  • Mozambique
  • Beach and Island Escapes

Tucked away in southern Mozambique on the very edge of Machangulo Peninsula is Machangulo Beach Lodge. With a lagoon on one side and the ocean on the other, the lodge overlooks the channel that runs between Inhaca Island and the Bay of Maputo. Only accessible by boat, this lodge feels far more remote than it is. It consists of just nine ocean-view rooms that sit on a ridge facing the ocean. Wooden walkways connect theses rooms with both the relaxed main areas and the unspoilt beach. This secluded location is surrounded by five protected areas, both on land and in the sea.

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Ikuka Safari Camp £££££

  • Tanzania
  • Safari Lodge

Ikuka Safari Camp is an intimate camp located on an escarpment with panoramic views of Ruaha National Park. The remoteness of this wilderness area offers an authentic and unspoilt safari experience. On game drives in the park, you are unlikely to see more than a handful of other vehicles. The camp has six spacious tented suites with 24-hour electricity, comfortable super-king beds and spacious bathrooms with showers and flush toilets. Each of the tented suites is covered by a thatched roof, whilst wooden decks extend in front, offering views over the park.

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Sonop £££££

  • Namibia
  • Unusual
  • Wilderness

Spread across a huge pile of boulders like an overgrown treehouse, Sonop is constructed from an elaborate maze of raised wooden walkways that link spacious canvas tents. The surrounding landscape is stunningly harsh: the rippling sands of the Namib Desert meet the dark rock of the Naukluft Mountains, as rugged wilderness encircles this rocky pinnacle. The camp is designed in a style that is reminiscent of the explorers of the 1920s, complete with Persian rugs, crystal decanters and wood-and-leather folding chairs. It sits within a 5,000-hectare reserve and the focus here is both exploration and relaxation. Spend time in the beautiful camp, simply absorbing the views or taking advantage of the spa, or head out into the dunes of the Namib Desert.

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Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge £££££

  • Namibia
  • Safari Lodge

Sitting on reclaimed farmland, this private reserve is positioned on the western edge of the Kalahari Desert. 4,000 hectares in size, it contains the distinctive dunes that give it its name, as well as a wide array of plains game, which has been reintroduced in place of domestic cattle. The lodge is built around a dry pan and offers a range of guided and independent activities within the reserve. Its 12 rooms all sit under cool thatched roofs and feature air-conditioning, spacious bathrooms, viewing decks and outdoor showers.

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El Karama £££££

  • Kenya
  • Safari Lodge

El Karama – meaning ‘treasured possession’ in Swahili – is a small, family-run lodge with a reputation for great, home-produced food and impeccable sustainable travel credentials. Murray and Sophie live on-site with their two young children and provide one of the most heartfelt safaris in Kenya.

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One&Only Gorilla’s Nest £££££

  • Rwanda
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

One&Only Gorilla’s Nest is located at the base of the Virunga Mountains, just 20 minutes from where gorilla treks begin. Surrounded by eucalyptus forest, it is spread across fertile grounds, rich with volcanic soil.

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Singita Kwitonda £££££

  • Rwanda
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Looking out towards the volcanic peaks of Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura, this stylish lodge is encircled by indigenous forests. Built from a mixture of light woods and volcanic stone, Singita Kwitonda makes the most of these beautiful views, with enormous glass windows featuring throughout the rooms and communal areas. Indoor and outdoor fireplaces keep the chill of the mountain air at bay.

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Meroe Permanent Tented Camp £££££

  • Sudan
  • Tented Camps

Sitting three kilometres away from the Royal Necropolis, the Meroe Camp is located in the small village of Bagarwiya and offers beautiful sunset views of the nearby pyramids.  

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A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchase through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
Price
From $9,454 Per person

When to travel

Tanzania in January

Generally, most places are quite humid and wet, although the north around the Serengeti can experience a brief dry season. This makes it a much quieter time to visit and see rhinos.

Tanzania in February

It remains a good time to head to the Serengeti and the north as it experiences a brief dry season.It is also one of the driest months in Zanzibar, so a great chances to spend some time on the quiet beaches.

Tanzania in March

The start of the long rainy season, as humidity builds. Some lodges close and roads can become impassable. The landscapes are lush but it makes wildlife harder to spot.

Tanzania in April

The wettest month, with uncomfortably high levels of humidity, so we advise against travel at this time.

Tanzania in May

The rain continues with uncomfortably high levels of humidity, so we advise against travel at this time.

Tanzania in June

The start of the dry season and one of the best months to visit. Clear skies dominate despite the lush landscapes, and it is a fantastic time to see thousands of wildebeest migrate in the Serengeti.

Tanzania in July

The driest and coolest month across the country. A popular time to travel, so heading to the south and west of the country is a good option. You can see all the wildlife that you can get in the northern parks but also chimpanzees.

Tanzania in August

Peak season, as the land dries up and makes spotting wildlife much easier. Spot elephants in Tarangire, or relax on the pristine white sandy beaches of Zanzibar. Just make sure to book well ahead as this is the busiest time of year.

Tanzania in September

After the European school holidays are finished, it is quieter. The great weather remains though, with less mosquitoes around too due to the low humidity. The water visibility improves and you can enjoy diving and snorkelling too.

Tanzania in October

Temperatures rise a little, as does the chance of a shower or two. The landscape is at its driest before the start of the rainy season, creating fantastic opportunities to see elephants in the sun-baked open plains.

Tanzania in November

A quiet time of year as the short rainy season starts. The rains are usually overnight but it can rain in the day too. Plenty of game can still be spotted in the Serengeti, but if you are searching for drier weather it is a good time to head south to the Selous.

Tanzania in December

The short rainy season continues throughout much of the country, but there is still plenty of game viewing in the Serengeti and it is peak season in Zanzibar. It can get very busy over the festive season so it is worth booking in advance.