The Wild West
Nestled in the depths of the somewhat obscure Katavi National Park, far out in the western reaches of Tanzania, is a camp called Chada Katavi. If you look at a map it’s a touch closer to the Democratic Republic of Congo than to the Serengeti. In other words, the beaten path is nowhere to be seen.
Katavi feels a bit like it’s lost in a wrinkle of time. Without the modern boundaries that seem to hem in the Serengeti, Katavi aggressively exerts its will to stay as wild as possible. Nowhere is this more apparent than along the banks of the Chada River. As the dry season waxes, it becomes the only source of water for miles and it becomes, quite literally, completely lethal. Hundreds (and I do mean hundreds) of hippos violently compete for space inside the rapidly drying mud pools. Enormous crocodiles do battle with lions for the meagre meat they can find. Epic battles arise over antelopes that are caught napping even for a minute, and woe to the hippo that succumbs to the heat or suffers too many wounds in the fray.
The camp itself, is a rather basic, stripped back affair, with six tents staffed with bucket showers and chemical toilets, each looking out over the dry plain of the incongruously named Lake Chada. What the place lacks in ostentation it makes up for it, in spades, in charm and character. The managers Justin and Jackie are the real heart and soul of the place, and make your experience unforgettable. If you need a spa or a pool look elsewhere, but if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool safari junkie like me, you’ll love it.
Given the far-flung nature of the place, scheduled charters only run on Thursdays and Sundays meaning you can choose to go to Chada Katavi for either a three or four night stay. I’ll be frank, it’s an awfully long way to come for just three days but fortuitously, its nearest neighbour is none other than Greystoke Mahale. If you fly to Katavi on a Thursday, you can spend three nights at Katavi and then make the short hop over the Mahale Mountains to Mahale for four nights. This seven-night combo will take you well and truly off the grid and expose you to some pretty incredible wilderness, and of course, afford you some pretty awesome bragging rights to take home with you.
Dan is a true safari fanatic. Give him a call and see how long he can go before the conversation veers off into safari territory (his longest record thus far is a mere 10 minutes).