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Katavi National Park, in western Tanzania is reputed to be one of the wildest places on earth. Filling the floor of the Rukwa Valley - a minor fault of the western rift - Katavi National Park spans over a million acres. From the escarpments, rivers run down through Tmarind and Albida forests to feed vast floodplains. Across these plains run the last great herds of buffalo in east Africa. Named after a legendary hunter, Katavi was originally gazetted by the Germans then established as a National Park in 1974 and is located in southwest Tanzania, east of Lake Tanganyika in the Mpanda district, Rukwa region.
The third largest national park in Tanzania (an area of 869 square miles), Katavi offers wildlife in abundance. It boasts Tanzania's greatest concentration of buffalo and hippopotamus. Huge herds of elephants, roan antelope, topi, zebras, impalas, eland, waterbuck and more, make Katavi a haven for predators like lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dogs. This is one of the last, true wilderness locations for the lesser and rare sable, roan and piku antelopes. Birdlife at Lake Katavi, particularly in the wet season, is also abundant and includes plovers, sand grouse and the Spurwing goose Unrestricted movements in Katavi mean ultimate game viewing opportunities. Prides of lion are seen fairly regularly along the Katuma River, well fed thanks to the abundant supply of buffalo and zebra in the area. The hippo population is becoming more and more concentrated as the water dries up with pods of up to 500-600 in the springs along the Katuma and Paradise areas. The crocodiles hole up in the caves along the river, with some holding hundreds of the reptiles.
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