Western Tanzania safari: Katavi National Park & Mahale Mountains

Trip ideas
Duration (in days): 8

From: Arusha

To: Arusha



Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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Embark on a safari journey in western Tanzania, the far less explored area of this huge country. Start in Arusha with a flight into the centre of Katavi National Park, where hippos and crocodiles fight for territory in the Katuma River and herds of zebras, giraffes and buffalo are stalked by cheetah and wild dogs. After a few days of game drives through this spectacular landscape you’ll fly to Lake Tanganyika, where Mahale Mountains National Park sits at the edge of the water. Chimpanzees have thrived in this huge park and trekking to visit them in the high misty mountains is a true African experience, deep in the heart of the forest. Finish your days with sundowners by the lake, watching the sun set and toasting a fantastic trip that gives a unique glimpse into this exceptional corner of the country.

This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.


  • Embark on many game drives through Katavi National Park
  • Look for huge hippos and fierce crocodiles lazing in the Katuma River
  • Spot big cats, elephants and herds of zebra on the grassy plains
  • Trek with chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains National Park
  • Drink a sundowner whilst watching the sun set into Lake Tanganyika



Itinerary in brief:

  • 4 nights Katavi National Park
  • 3 nights Lake Tanganyika


Day 1: Arrive Arusha

Arrive in Arusha before connecting on your domestic flight to Katavi Airstrip. Depending on your arrival time, you can enjoy a game drive after lunch at the lodge, where you will check in for four nights.

Days 2 - 4: Katuma Bush Lodge

Katuma Bush Lodge provides an exciting safari experience for its visitors’ due to its location in the heart of Katavi National Park, one of the least visited areas of Tanzania.

Located on the western side of Tanzania, the park contains a vast wetland plain as well as the wild Katuma River which supports the country’s densest population of crocodiles and hippos. During the dry season, the wetlands retreat and the now shallow Katuma River becomes the only source of water for miles, attracting herds of elephants and buffalo to its side, as well as an abundance of giraffes, zebra and impalas. These groups become easy pickings for the prides of lions and hyena clans that stalk the floodplains but the fiercest animal you’ll come across in Katavi are the hippos; being squeezed together into depleting mud pools during the dry season means tempers can rise, resulting in territorial fights between these mighty animals.

On the first and third day, you’ll enjoy a morning and evening game drive, looking out for mammals and birdlife as you drive through this huge park. On the second day, you’ll enjoy a full day game drive, eating a packed lunch when you’re out in the midst of the wildlife – truly a spectacular experience to discuss when you’re back at the lodge that night having sundowners around the fire. Your time here will go quickly but four nights will give you long enough to truly take in this remote national park.

Day 5: Fly to Kungwe Beach Lodge

After breakfast, you’ll be driven to the airstrip to catch your flight to Kungwe Beach Lodge on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. If there is plenty of time you’ll be able to stop and admire any wildlife you spot on the way. Take the short flight before taking a dhow boat ride for 1.5 hours to the lodge. You will be welcomed and check into your room for three nights. Enjoy a delicious lunch here before embarking on an afternoon chimpanzee trek or forest walk, finishing the day with a sundowner as you watch the sun set behind the mountains of the Congo.

Days 6 & 7: Kungwe Beach Lodge 

Accessible only by boat or air, Mahale Mountains National Park is one of the most isolated parks in Africa. Dots of lonely golden beaches and lush jungle covered peaks make up the park, which is home to approximately 800 chimpanzees.  Each morning here you’ll enjoy a chimpanzee trek, looking out for these curious creatures in the dense foliage before spending your afternoons at leisure, enjoying the lodge, kayaking on the lake, or taking a boat safari along the shore.

As the park is so huge, chimpanzees have flourished here as they can fade away into the mountains whenever predators come near – this is the only place in Africa where chimpanzees and lions coexist. Researchers have habituated a group of around 60 which you will visit, climbing through the mountains to find these captivating primates is a magical experience. Exploring Mahale is a joy - listening for rare birdcalls over the general hum of life in the forest and watching monkeys squabble over fruit – you’ll feel so small in this mighty forest.

Day 8: Depart Arusha

After breakfasting this morning, you’ll be transferred on the dhow boat back to Mahale Airstrip and catch your flight back to Arusha Airport, where you trip will finish.



Rainy season engulfs Tanzania between March and May and the lodges close. In western Tanzania, the temperature is stable throughout the year and the rains follow the same pattern as the rest of the country but are a bit more reliable, with most of the rain falling between November and April.

This itinerary is purely a suggestion, and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you

What's included: 

  • 7 nights’ accommodation
  • Full board meals
  • Soft drinks and water
  • Shared charter flights (Between Arusha, Katavi, Mahale & Arusha)
  • 1 x Chimpanzee trek per day in Mahale
  • 1 x boat safari in Mahale
  • Game drives on a shared basis in Katavi
  • Daily conservation and guide fees

Not included: 

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Tips to lodges, camp staff and guides
  • Insurance


7 nights in luxury standard accommodation.

Hotels in this category include:

  • Katuma Bush Lodge

  • Kungwe Beach Lodge


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