Katavi Wilderness Camp is situated in Tanzania on the Katasunga Plains...
Katavi Wildlife Camp: Our full report
One of (currently) only four camps in Tanzania’s very remote Katavi National Park, the simple Katavi Wildlife Camp stands in a fantastic location on the edge of the huge Katasunga Plains, close to park’s main airstrip. It’s constructed as quite a traditional tented camp, and doesn’t promise anything more elaborate.
Katavi Wildlife Camp is owned and run by the same family team as Ruaha River Lodge and Rufiji River Camp. The family’s surname is Fox, and hence this is sometimes sometimes referred to as ‘Foxes Katavi Wildlife Camp’ or ‘Foxes Wildlife Camp, Katavi’, or even simply ‘Foxes' Camp’!
The experience here at Katavi Wildlife Camp is highly seasonal. From November (once the short rains start) until around the beginning of July (when the park begins to get really dry) the vast plains extending out in front of the lodge turn to swampy marshland, attracting huge quantities of birdlife in the process (there are over 420 recorded species in Katavi). By the end of July, the relentless sun turns the swamps to parched dry plains, along which countless animals trudge to reach the small permanent water source located not far from the camp.
There are currently six tented rooms at Katavi Wildlife Camp, all spread out well overlooking the plain. On our last visit, in June 2013, there were plans to build some new, larger family tents in the near future. We saw the framework for these tents, but they looked to be similar in style, with plenty of space. We were also told they would have small plunge pools but, while these would be appreciated when the temperatures rise, we have to question their appropriateness in a park where water is a scare resource in the dry season.
Each of the current large, cream tents at Foxes’ Katavi Wildlife Camp is suspended under a thatched roof, and raised about half a metre off the ground on wooden decking. The mosquito-net gauze windows on the front and side give the tents a remarkably open and airy feel, allowing the breeze to pass through. This is especially welcome from September onwards, when it can get very hot in Katavi. Each tent is equipped with a small writing desk, luggage rack and wooden-framed beds (three tents have a large double and three have twins).
Each tent has an en-suite bathroom at the back. This has twin sinks, a shower and toilet – all have running water, but because the shower is solar heated, you can really only get hot water at the end of the day. There’s plenty of space to hang your clothes, as well as a small electronic safe for storing valuables. Little touches such as coloured bedspreads and seed-pod ornaments add interest. There’s a large verandah in the front of each tent, still shaded by the thatch. A couple of chairs sit facing the plains, and a hammock is strung up – perfect for siesta time!
The main areas at Katavi Wildlife Camp are completely open-sided, with a high thatched roof and wooden floors. The small lounge and dining area are all open plan with views out onto the plains beyond. By August, when the park has started to get very dry, huge herds of buffalo can regularly be seen in front of the camp. The bar is well stocked and there’s a small mezzanine level with a bookswap.
Our viewWe really liked the Foxes’ Katavi Wildlife Camp. It was simple but very nicely styled, spacious and in a great location. It also has a slightly more personal feel than its sister camps in Selous and Ruaha, so is a nice option in this remote park.
Ideal length of stay: You can stay here for either three or four nights to fit in with the twice-weekly flights in and out of the park (on Mondays and Thursdays)
Directions: In the dry season the camp is about a five-minute drive from Katavi airstrip. If there is still a bit of water around then they need to drive slightly further which takes about 30 minutes.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast at Katavi Wildlife Camp is usually a selection of fruits, followed by a cooked breakfast of your choice. Tea, coffee and juice are also available.
Lunch is a buffet meal served in the main dining area. On our last visit, we had a good selection of vegetable samosas, potato wedges, coleslaw salad and garden salad. There were a great variety of chutneys and pickles to accompany the meal. The dessert (flambéed banana) was served to us at the table. It was simple and fresh – perfect.
Dinner is usually eaten as one large group and is a three-course meal. On our visit, we enjoyed tomato-and-olive soup to start, followed by a buffet selection of chicken pilau and rice with fresh vegetables. There was a passion fruit mouse for dessert. Dinner was very good – not too fussy, but with plenty of flavour.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks cost extra.
Attitude towards children: The camp welcomes children.
Property’s age restrictions: Children aged two and above are accepted.
Special activities & services: No
Generally recommended for children: Katavi is a very wild park, and so we’d advise that only older children would enjoy it. Best for age 12+. Due to the presence of wildlife, children should be supervised at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: The power is on between 6.30am and 10.30pm.
Communications: There is a very limited cellphone reception in Katavi, but for all intents and purposes you should consider yourself out of touch.
TV & radio: No
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: They have a first-aid kit on site. For any serious emergencies the camp has links with Safari Airlink who would fly guests out.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: They have askaris (guards) to escort you around the camp as soon as it gets dark.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in each room.
Laundry facilities: Included. Laundry takes minimum of 24 hours and all items, including women’s underwear, can be washed.
Money: Each tent has an electronic safe to store valuables.
Accepted payment on location: The camp can take MasterCard and Visa (with a 5% surcharge), but they don’t have a machine, so they’ll simply take your details and charge you when they can contact the head office. Cash is the best way to pay for any extras here. They normally accept US dollars, British pounds, euros and Tanzanian shillings.