Wild Katavi and Mahale Chimp Safari
An off-the-beaten-track safari to Tanzania's wild west
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- All accommodation
- Shared safari activities in Katavi and Mahale Mountains National Parks
- Shared charter light aircraft flights, transfers and airport meet and greet
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
As much an adventure as a luxury safari, this nine-day expedition will take you to the ‘wild west’ of Tanzania to two stunning but rarely visited national parks.
Begin like most Tanzanian safaris with a relaxing night in Arusha before a light aircraft out to Katavi National Park, a relatively long journey that is soon rewarded. Plains, rivers, hills, lakes and woodland make are home to thousands of elephant, zebra, impala and topi, along with a whole roster of predators from lion to wild dog, leopard and hyena, and hippos and crocodiles gathering in great concentrations. A vast and varied landscape, this untamed swathe of the Rift Valley is visited by just a few hundred people annually, meaning you have its almost 4,500 square kilometres to yourself while based under canvas at the intimate Chada Katavi camp.
From Katavi it’s a short flight north to the shores of Lake Tanganyika and the forest slopes of Mahale Mountains National Park. Staying under thatch in one of Greystoke Mahale’s beach and looking out to the lake’s water, spend your days here venturing into the forests on foot in search of habituated chimpanzee troops – the park’s most famous inhabitants – for an unforgettable and humbling encounter with one of our closest ape relatives. They’ll also be plenty of time to relax, kayak on the lake, fish from traditional dhows, swim under waters falls and enjoying incredible sunsets.
This is a great trip for second time visitors or those looking to extend the usual safari ‘circuit’ into something even more extraordinary.
Example Trip Itinerary
Meet and greet at Kilimanjaro airport
Private transfer to your hotel in Arusha
Accommodation in Arusha
- 18 Plantation Rooms
- 12 Plantation Suites
- Swimming Pool
- Wireless Internet Access
Quite ideally situated on the outskirts of busy Arusha, this lodge is a brilliant spot to stay either before or after your safari in Tanzania. It is quite a surprisingly long drive through town to reach from Kilimanjaro International Airport (roughly 90 minutes) but as it is hidden on the grounds of one of Tanzania’s largest coffee plantations, the distance is worth it. Yes, you might be exposed to a busy city and hard traffic but once you arrive, the plantation houses offer you a homely space to either relax after a long international flight, or to flick through your photos before you head home again. In the main lodge you can enjoy the warmth of open log fires while sipping a well-earned gin and tonic or spend time out on the garden terrace breathing in the smells of the plantations around you. The plantation itself can be explored on a 2 hour guided walk which is a superb insight into the methods of coffee harvesting and ends with an excellent brew of the local beans at the end. You have the chance to venture into Arusha if the need takes you, but otherwise you can just make the most of the large grounds which are very popular with locals and expatriates alike. If the midday heat gets a bit much, they also have a pool that is great for dipping your toes into and topping up your safari tan.
- 6 Luxurious Garden Cottages
- 1 Family Cottage:2 rooms
- 2 Luxury Rooms in the Old Farmhouse
A very private experience on the outskirts of Arusha, the Legendary Coffee Lodge is situated on its own genuine coffee plantation with views of Mount Meru spanning behind. Each of the six garden cottages has their own private veranda and is beautifully decorated with a colonial feel. They have large and extremely comfortable beds and a lounge area with a fireplace to take the chill off the cooler African nights. The family cottage has two bedrooms and a private garden which is a superb way to spend some time relaxing in absolute luxury during your stopover in the bustling city pre- or post-safari. Two cosy en-suite rooms in the Old Farmhouse provide a comfortable retreat from which to explore the grounds of this genuine coffee plantation. After roughly an hour’s drive through Arusha, you will arrive onto this working coffee farm and will have the chance to either relax and spend time in the well kept grounds, or venture into the city to see some of the museums and markets on offer. The service is excellent due to the small number of people you will actually be sharing the ground with, and serves as a perfect stopover if you need to stay over in Arusha.
- Exclusive private use and shared villas
- Private chef and staff
- Swimming pool
Less than an hour from Arusha and Kilimanjaro Intenational Airport, Kili Villa offers a selection of exclusive private use and shared villas with spectacular views to Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro. The villas can accommodate groups of up to eight people in private suites, ideal for groups of friends and families. Double rooms in a shared villa can also be arranged. Each villa is distinctively decorated combining local African design and craftsmanship with colonial style furniture. Built around a central private courtyard, each villa boasts a reception, living and dining room. The staff in each villa offers personal service to have a truly relaxed time here. A private chef will cater according to your requests and private staff ensures you can truly enjoy your time here. Whether you want to spend an afternoon at the Polo Club, get on Kilimanjaro’s slopes, enjoy a day of safari in Arusha National Park, your manager is on hand to organise day trips and excursions. Golf is a major attraction for guests here and it’s a short stroll to the tee box from your doorstep. You can go also for a horse riding safari to spot some small wild living on the estate.
Enjoy a restful overnight stay in your chosen accommodation in or just outside of Arusha.
Private transfer from Arusha hotel to Arusha airport
Shared charter flight from Arusha to Katavi
Transfer from Katavi airstrip to your lodge
Katavi National Park
Accommodation in Katavi National Park
- Six Bush Tents
Not for the faint hearted but rather more suited to the truly adventurous who are looking for total absorption into the natural world and a vast African landscape virtually to themselves. This remarkable tented camp is located in an unbelievable game catchment area and offers you some prime game sightings. The camp has only six spacious and comfortable en-suite tents all elevated on brand new wooden platforms and look out over the wide open Chada Plain. The bathrooms have hot bucket showers to wash away the dust of the day and are delightfully ‘bush-deluxe’. Surrounded by acacia and tamarind trees, the camp feels a bit wild and rugged but the set up is stylish and nothing short of spectacular for its isolated location. Walking out into this untamed land you might feel a little bit exposed, but rest assured that the guides you will be striding out with know these lands well and can read the wilderness as if it were their own. You will also have an armed scout in company just for your peace of mind and as you wander in between the trees on the lookout for elephants that are so quiet they seem to tip-toe, this might be the most exhilarating experience of your life. And, when you are not out in the vehicles scanning for beasts or bustling through the scrubland you’ll be enjoying delicious meals and wines in the comfort of the camp.
Completely off the beaten track, Katavi is isolated and undiscovered by all but the most ardent safari goers. The national park encompasses huge grassland plains, marshland, rugged hills, woodland, lakes and rivers which, when combined with the surrounding game reserves of Rukwa, Lukwati and Luafi, form a great ecosystem of some 25,000 square kilometres. What’s even more appealing is that there with only a couple of permanent camps and just a few hundred visitors a year, you’ll get it virtually to yourself.
Countless zebra, impala and topi which fill the plains, while there are also strong populations of giraffe, buffalo, elephant, hartebeest and waterbuck. Predators such as lion prides and hyena are easily found while cheetah, wild dog and leopard can also be spotted. During the dry season, hundreds of hippo crowd into the remaining waterholes and rivers, while crocodiles sun themselves on the banks.
Shared transfer from Chada Katavi to Katavi Airstrip
Shared charter flight from Katavi to Mahale
Mahale Mountains National Park
Boat transfer from Mahale airstrip to your lodge
Accommodation in Mahale Mountains National Park
- 6 Beach Bandas
Shadowed by the stunning Mahale Mountains with views over Lake Tanganyika, Greystoke Mahale is an extremely unique lodge and quite honestly, a bit of a gem. The entire camp is built with wood from reclaimed wrecked or retired dhows and old fisherman’s canoes. The thatched roofs are designed using old palm leaves and paired with a distinctive design, this lodge provides a very different and wholesome experience on the shores of the lake. With just six wooden chalets at the base of the forest line, you will be able to enjoy a really exclusive service in a rather romantic setting. Each room has an upstairs deck where you can enjoy a beautiful view over the lake and in the evening wonder down the beach to the main boma area to enjoy some special sundowners looking over to the mountains of Congo beyond. Each morning you will be briefed on the movement of the families of chimps in the mountains behind the lodge and either chose to follow them into the forest or simply relax on the stunning white beaches around camp. You could search for the smaller creatures on the forest paths or swim in the stunning waterfalls up in the mountain, or indeed spend some time actually on the lake, enjoying the spattered glare of the sun on these enticing waters.
Mahale Mountains National Park sits next to the longest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Tanganyika. What makes this location extra special is the presence of chimpanzees in the thick forests that cover the its slopes. Jane Goodall made the area famous and has done much to highlight awareness of the chimpanzees and promote their conservation.
Close observation by these scientific studies over the years have made the chimpanzees approachable, allowing the unique and rare experience of getting up close to our closest cousins in the animal kingdom, which is the main attraction of coming to this area. The chimpanzees are not the only feature however, as the lake itself is quite beautiful and home to abundant bird and aquatic life.
Boat transfer to Mahale airstrip
Shared charter lfight to Kilimanjaro Airport
Get in Touch
Wild Katavi and Mahale Chimp Safari
How We Work
We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.
Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.
From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.