Chada Katavi

Katavi National Park, Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania Book from

Reviewed by Gemma Pitcher
Amazingly remote wilderness camp in Tanzania’s little-visited Katavi National Park
Just six tents in a million acres of National Park - that’s about a hundred thousand acres per visitor. Camps don’t come a lot more remote than this. If utter isolation in the wilds of Africa is what you’ve been looking for, Chada is the end of your journey. Katavi National Park, with its primeval mud rivers, huge golden floodplains, and whispering stands of palm trees, apparently receives fewer visitors in a year than the Serengeti does in a single day.

You fly into camp in a shared-charter Cessna, skimming low across vast herds of buffalo and rivers filled with hippo before bumping down on an airstrip surrounded by giraffe, antelope and elephant. The style of Chada is rugged and unpretentious, rather than being ostentatious and ‘designed’. The camp has comforts in abundance - feather pillows, ice cold drinks, steaming hot showers - but, as owner Roland Purcell pointed out , “they’re not really the point”.


  • You'll rarely see another tourist (besides the 12 camp guests) but you do get amazing views over golden floodplains
  • Exotic picnics overlooking waterholes or bird-rich swamps
  • Silverware, chilled wine and amazing travellers' tales at the dinner table
  • Fly camping overnight in the midst of the bush
  • Greater concentration of game than any other Tanzanian park - including Ngorongoro and Serengeti


  • It's not haute luxe - simple tents, outside bathrooms and bucket showers
  • Animals roam through camp regularly - it’s not a place for the very nervous
  • Remote location, reached via a long flight in light aircraft, with scheduled departures only on Mondays and Thursdays

Best time to go

June to October
Chada is best during the dry season, June to October. As the season progresses, the climate in Katavi gets steadily hotter and drier, with many of the rivers drying up completely in October. The consequences of this are that the game is easier to spot in the drier parts of the year (Aug to Oct); while in the earlier months (June, July) the park is greener and more attractive, and birdlife more abundant.

November to February
The green season. The park is lush after the short rains, with great birding and wild flowers. Elephants and plains game are plentiful.

Our top tips

Most visitors combine Chada Katavi with the chimpanzee watching camp, Greystoke Mahale, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, or camps in the southern parks, Ruaha and Selous. See some suggested itineraries.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Camp
  • 6
  • All inclusive
  • Over 8s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym


Chada’s tents are pure authentic bush: beige canvas, quite spacious, and simply furnished with wooden beds spread with colourful African blankets. The bathrooms are just outside, with straw walls, a long-drop loo, and a canvas bucket shower suspended from the branches of a tree. Hot water is brought morning and evening (or on request) rather than being constantly on tap. A shade net window offers views out on to the plains. It’s a very heady feeling washing one’s face outside in the chilly dawn before a game drive, with zebras moving across the plain in front.

The tents are quite spread out from each other for privacy, and the lack of fences or boundaries means that at night, the sounds of animals going about their business come from just the other side of the canvas walls. All in all it's what you might call a genuine safari camp rather than a luxury lodge.

Features include:

  • Extra beds
  • Internet access


Breakfast and lunch at Chada Katavi take place in the open mess tent, on a long table with a panoramic view of the plains. Breakfast is a hearty affair with porridge, toast, and fry-ups being cooked to order. For lunch, wooden bowls are laid out containing a selection of salads and stir-fried vegetables accompanied by cheese, quiche and cold meat or fish. Picnics in the bush are very popular - Land Rovers drive out in advance and spread out lunch in a beauty spot under palm trees or on a riverbank. Rugs, giant cushions, deckchairs and books are provided for an afternoon spent lounging, reading or birdwatching.

Dinner is taken in the canvas mess tent, around a single table. Conversation is usually both erudite and lively, with the world being put to rights nightly, and tall stories flying. The youthful lodge manager Richard Pye contributes aplenty; his companion Mara, who trained as a chef in the UK, looks after the cuisine. Food is fairly simply cooked, but delicious and plentiful - mustard-glazed roast leg of lamb with fresh vegetables, followed by crème brûlée. Steaming cups of tea and coffee are served as a wake-up call before game drives; gin and tonic is a ritual at sundowner time; fine wines flow freely at dinner.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Communal dining


Game drives are very flexible - you can go out at any time of the day, for as long as you like, including driving off-road (forbidden in most parks). This means you can get pretty close to the herds of buffalo, wildebeest or zebra - sometimes several thousand strong - for which the park is famous. Hippo and crocodile are present in their hundreds in the creeks that crisscross the plains; and lions can also be seen in action.

After years of being famous for its ancient vehicles, Chada has recently invested in some smart new open-sided Land Cruisers.

  • Make a full day of it with an exotic lunch picnic, set up in advance above a swamp or waterhole. Spend the rest of the afternoon lounging in the shade on giant cushions
  • ‘Fly camp’ in tiny two-man tents set up in the bush miles from anywhere. Fly camps are far from uncomfortable, with a full bar, three-course dinner, hammocks, and a roaring campfire that’s lit as darkness falls
  • Take a walking safari along the riverbank, through tamarind, fig and albida forests, spotting myriad bird species overhead - with the help of a guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Fly camping
  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Walking safaris
  • Wildlife


Children over 8 are welcome and, provided they are robust and interested in wildlife, should have a great time. Only children over the age of 12 are permitted on the walking and fly camping activities. Each tent can fit an extra bed in, or children can share a tent (enquire for pricing in this instance). Kids aged 12+ are treated as adults.

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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