Katavi National Park is one of Africa’s most remote places. With only around 600 visitors a year, it omits next to Tanzania’s most famous park The Serengeti and its 40,000 visitors. Life in Katavi converges around the Katuma river. Crocs do not stalk their prey, they just wait in the water, keeping a low profile. An impala spots greener grass on the other side of the river, and runs fast across the water. Just in time, it jumps to escape from killer yaws. Being caught by a croc means an unpleasant death, as they hold their prey firmly under water until its last breath.
Katavi’s most singular wildlife spectacle is provided by hippos. In dry times, up to 200 individuals might flop together in any riverine pool of sufficient depth. Water and mud protects the hippos from overheating and desiccating. As more hippos gather in one place, male rivalry heats up, and bloody territorial fights are an everyday occurrence.
Ruaha National Park gathers all of Africa in one place. Prides of 20-plus lions, lord over the savanna. They just hunted a giraffe, which can feed the pride for days. That is, if they can keep competitors away. Lionesses know they have to wait for the big males to fill their belly up to burst. Watching scavengers seem to be aware of this picking order too. Although Ruaha is the largest park of Tanzania, its inaccessibility means receiving few tourists. It is therefore, and not for nothing, that it holds the name; Tanzania’s best kept secret.