Katavi National Park, the real Eden of the Southern Highlands. Driving across lush green marshland, populated by of hippos, flocks of waterfowl and elephants on abundant foliage gives a real picture of Katavi National Park, the Eden of the Southern Highlands of Tanzania.
Lake Chada which lies on the flood plain that was cut down by the meandering Katuma River is at the heart of what must be termed as East Africa’s best game park – Katavi National Park in Katavi Region.
Set within the shallow arm of the Rift Valley that runs south-east from Lake Tanganyika to terminate in the marshy expanse of Lake Rukwa, Katavi is Tanzania’s third largest National Park and, according to one recent scientific survey, holds a higher concentration of game than any other.
The park receives fewer visitors in the course of an average year than would pass through the entrance gate of one of its better-known peers: Ngorongoro Crater or the Serengeti, for instance, during a quiet hour.
Big part of the park supports a featureless cover of tangled brachystegia woodland, home to substantial but elusive populations of the localized eland, sable and roan antelopes. But the main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River and associated floodplains such as the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Chada.
During the rainy season, these lush, marshy lakes are a haven for myriad of water birds, and they also support Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippo and crocodile.
It is during the dry season, when the floodwaters retreat, that Katavi truly comes into its own. The Katuma, reduced to a shallow, muddy trickle, forms the only source of drinking water for miles around, and the flanking floodplains support game concentrations that defy belief.
While visiting the park, you can count up to 100 hippos out of water with a passing of thirsty elephant, buffalo, lion, hyena and various antelope.
The most impressive mammalian feature of Katavi is its hippos. The Katuma might not rank as one of Africa’s great rivers – certainly not during the dry season, when its banks are separated by a two-metre-wide trickle of muddy, sluggish knee-deep water.
Yet when the floodwaters retreat, this overgrown stream provides refuge to a density of hippos that defies belief. Wherever the water is belly deep, groups of up to 200 hippos flop across each other like seals at a breeding colony.
These hippo concentrations are comprised of several different groups that would be dispersed across the saturated flood plain at other times of year.
Watching hippos could be a natural drama full of a high level male rivalry at the crowded pools, with bloody territorial disputes occurring practically on a daily basis.
On one occasion, four male hippos leave the main group and clamber up the riverbank, where they took turns growling and chasing each other back into the water.
The notion that Katavi might harbor a higher concentration of game than any other Tanzanian parks, the Serengeti included. It is difficult to verify or to credit entirely.
But certainly this less-known park does support herds to a scale seldom seen elsewhere in modern-day Africa.
An estimated 4,000 elephants might converge on the area, together with several herds of 1,000-plus buffalo, while an abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala and reedbuck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.
This Information is taken from TOURIST BOARD OF TANZANIA