Chada Camp: Our full report
Chada Camp is a bush camp occupying a woodland spot on the edge of Chada Plain in the heart of Tanzania's ...... Katavi National Park. It aims to offer guests an authentic safari experience in this remote park 50km east of Lake Tanganyika – and is sometimes known as 'Chada Katavi Camp'.
Katavi has a number of wide open floodplains, flanked by forested areas. The six safari tents at Chada are nestled amongst the trees and face out towards the plains. While some have slightly better views than others, they all enjoy a great degree of privacy thanks to the fairly generous spacing between the tents. Each room has big gauze windows that allow the breeze to pass through – this is especially welcome August–October when it's very dry – but keeps the insects out. Each tent is decorated with subtle natural fabrics and palm matting and feature a large, very comfortable bed, a writing desk; outside, practical canvas chairs sit on the veranda. The rooms are simple in design, yet comfortable and well equipped. There is an ensuite bathroom with a flush toilet and an outside bucket shower. Enjoying a cooling shower during the heat of the day, and watching elephants browsing the trees out on the plain, is quite the experience.
Chada Camp's communal areas consist of a lounge-cum-library tent, where guests are welcome to sit and relax – a pair of binoculars in hand. On our last visit, in September 2018, we sat watching a herd of elephants wander through camp, numbers of giraffe every day, as well as a herd of several hundred buffalo on the plains. Afternoon tea will usually be served here before you head out on your afternoon activity, while breakfast and lunch are dished up in the dining tent (if taken in camp) and dinner served outside on the decking under the stars. There's a campfire set a little in front of the lodge, where guests usually gather for pre-dinner drinks and nibbles.
As you'd expect, safari activities are the main focus at Chada Camp. Chada's knowledgeable safari guides will lead you on 4WD game drives, accompanied by a picnic breakfast and perhaps even a picnic lunch too. Katavi National Park has plenty of open country, including the fringes of its great plains and often it can take a whole day to explore a section of the park. It's particularly good for walking safaris, which are always accompanied by an armed game scout. We enjoyed a fantastic walk on our last visit, encountering large pods of hippo down in the river below us, as well as the Chada pride of lions in the distance. There is also the opportunity to night drive; in 2018, we encountered vast numbers of hippo out grazing, numerous genets and a fantastic sighting of a civet.
Game in Katavi is at its best towards the end of the dry season (August–October), when the small pools of water dry up and huge quantities of game file down to drink what little-available water there is each day. One of the best features of Katavi is the incredibly low number of annual visitors: it is said that Katavi receives as many visitors in a year as the Ngorongoro Crater receives in a single day. With only three camps in the park, the likelihood of encountering other vehicles is very low – so low in fact that, in September, we saw only one other vehicle each day (and twice it was a ranger!). With the benefit of having the park mostly to yourselves to enjoy, there is a slight downside in that there aren't ever many vehicles out on game drives looking for wildlife and sharing information, so you do need to work a little harder to find the animals.
The park suffers during the rains as the vast plains completely flood, and black cotton soil makes driving difficult, so the season here for visitors is short: June to mid November. Be aware that Katavi does have tsetse flies, which bite – and whilst the camp takes precautions to minimise these, few people will stay here for 3-4 nights without getting bitten out on a game drive. Thus, it's probably not the best destination for anyone who reacts very strongly to insect bites.
When staying here 3-4 nights, consider spending at least one night out in the bush, on an adventurous fly-camping trip, which comes highly recommended. It's a perfect way to experience the bush in the most authentic way.
Chada is a wild camp, aiming to suit those who want a traditional safari experience with good food, comfortable beds, and great guiding. You're immersed in Katavi National Park bush, not insulated from it – and in one of the most remote and wild reserves in East Africa.
- Katavi National Park, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- There are two flights a week into Katavi (Mondays and Thursdays), so guests usually stay 3–4 nights, unless they charter privately.
- The camp is about a 30-minute straight drive from Ikuu Airstrip. However, guests will usually take a leisurely hour’s game drive en-route to the camp.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Breakfast at Chada Camp is often taken with you if you choose to leave on an early-morning game drive. If you want to stay in camp, there is a selection of fruits and cereals, followed by cooked eggs, bacon and sausages, as well as tea, coffee and fruit juice.
Lunch can again be taken along if you’re out on a full-day game drive. However, many choose to return to camp and if you do you’ll probably be offered similar fare to what we ate on our last visit in September 2018: a light and fresh selection of salads, freshly baked bread and something more substantial like quiche, sausage rolls or chicken skewers. This was always followed by a cool, fruity dessert.
Dinner is usually eaten together with all guests sharing a communal table. It’s generally a three-course set menu of simple, hearty dishes, brought to guests at the table for them to help themselves. The grilled tilapia and chocolate mousse were highlights of our last visit, along with the fantastic bush breakfast that followed our safari walk.
- Walking safaris
- Chada Camp is particularly good for walking safaris, which are always accompanied by an armed game scout.
- See ideas for Walking safaris
- Wildlife safaris
- Chada camp is a very serious safari camp in one of Africa's most remote national parks. It's particularly noted for its sense of wilderness, and for large herds of buffalo hunted by big prides of lion!
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Attitude towards children
- The camp welcomes families with older children.
- Property’s age restrictions
- The minimum age at Chada Camp is 12 years.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- Katavi is a wild park - and so not really suitable for young children. Wildlife frequently moves through camp, including big game like elephants and giraffe.
- Katavi National Park is very remote and very wild. We’d only recommend this for well-behaved, older children who have an interest in nature.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Chada Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Chada Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- Chada has a backup generator and the lights in the tent normally work 24 hours a day. Any battery charging must be done in the main areas.
- There is a WiFi tent a short walk from the main area which guests are welcome to use. There is intermittent cellphone reception.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV or radio.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Bucket showers are available on request. Filtered drinking water is supplied to all of the rooms.
Building bridges between locals and wildlife
Bringing local communities closer to the surrounding wildlife has become a priority at Chada Katavi. By working closely with the Landscape and Conservation Mentors Organisation (LCMO), Chada Katavi supports the development of strong relationships between local communities and wildlife. LCMO collaborates with communities, employing village ambassadors who assist with the running of various activities that promote the coexistence of local people and wildlife. A significant part of this work consists of the running of youth clubs in nearby villages. Here, national park visits, birdwatching, and tree-planting are just a few of the activities introduced to support education about the importance of the nearby environment as well as sustainable living.
Guests at Chada Katavi are encouraged to visit LCMO, located just a 90-120-minute drive away through the national park and surrounding rural area. There, they can experience village life in Katavi, as well meeting with children and youth group members to learn first-hand about how they are contributing towards the sustainability and protection of the local environment. Additionally, visits can be made to the tree nursery, to meet the bee-keeping team, as well as learning about local soap making co-ops and lion defenders. Visitors can also contribute to LCMO and Katavi by donating school supplies and field equipment.
See more great sustainability projects in Tanzania
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The camp has first-aid kits on-site and has links to flying doctors for any serious issues.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- There are askaris (armed guards), who escort guests to and from their tents as soon as it’s dark.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in the rooms.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry – which is hand washed, line dried, and ironed with a coal iron – is currently included but, as with most camps in Tanzania, women’s underwear is not accepted. They are usually able to provide a same-day service if the weather is good.
- Any valuables can be given to the manager who will store them in the office.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cash is recommended to settle any extras and they will accept US$, GB£, Euro and Tanzanian shillings.
Other lodges in Katavi National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.