Knud Henrik's diary 14 June 2006: Katavi National Park

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Last updated 2007.11.21

Monday 12 June we only went the short distance from Mpanda to Katavi National Park. Just inside the park we pitched our tent at the camp site, immediately welcomed by a herd of impalas of some 70 individuals, nervously watching us from a safe distance. Also, at small group of elephants was seen just about 100 m off the camp site.

Once settled we went on a little safari along the Lake Katavi in the western part of the park and the following day we made a safari to the central part along Lake Chada.

Katavi NP is a fairly large area but not very developed as a tourist attraction. Two particulars are important to mention, a bad one and a god one.

The bad one is the very annoying tsetse flies. If there is a way to avoid being bitten by these nasty insects I would like to know. It really hurts when they bite. And they are abundant in huge numbers in Katavi. If you go there dress up with long trousers and long sleeves and avoid deep blue and black colours as it appears these colours are their favourites.

The good one is the impressive views over the flood plains around Lake Katavi and Lake Chada (which is actually more like a swamp). Especially on and around these vast plains we saw huge numbers of animals, mainly various deer species but also elephants, buffalos, giraffes and hippos. From the park warden we had acquired a sketch of the park on which the recorded game species were listed together with population size estimates. The impala population was estimated to 1.500 individuals and we saw every single one of them. Also, we had a good and fairly close sight of the eland antelope, which is rarely seen on close hold as they are very shy and prefer the more densely forested areas. I shall never forget the beautiful views over the plains with so many animals and so many different animals all in one view.

Tuesday we had made arrangements to have dinner at Katavi Hippo Garden Hotel, a fairly new establishment at Sitalike, just outside the park boundary. Returning to the camp site in the dark again we were welcomed by the impala herd, their eyes reflecting the headlights of the car. All through the night we enjoyed the company of the impalas and occasional zebras. Next morning the impalas really showed off, making their fabulous jumps, maybe to point out to us that we had intruded their territory.

Wednesday 14 June we made an early start and left the camp site 7:45 am and headed for Sumbawanga, 208 km to the south. Well out of the national park we managed to find a local café and had some breakfast, making the day of the owner, indeed he looked very happy with our unexpected visit. And on we went, bouncing our way to Sumbawanga. Japhet had never been down this way and I had warned him that this probably would be the toughest part of the whole journey. We couldn't make more than 35 km/h on average, take that!

Today is also Aske's birthday. And what did he get as a birthday present: 208 km of very rough road and a soda for breakfast. Poor boy.