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optig

It's True-Chada Katavi and Greystoke Mahale are best possible combination

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I flew in to Arusha and I was pleasantly surprised how clean and efficient everything was. The weather was beautiful and I stayed at Arusha Coffee Lodge. I had stayed there 10 years ago, but I had no real memory of it. It's a beautiful lodge located in beautiful grounds. There were birds singing everywhere. The rooms were just lovely, the food and the services were both excellent. I slept one night and flew the next day to Katavi National Park. I was staying at Chada Katavi which I felt was simply an outstanding camp. The Tanzanian manager Mwanza was excellent and I couldn't have been more impressed with his kindness, courtesy and enthusiasm. I spent no less than one week here and was fortunate enough to go fly camping twice, and one night drive. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this was without doubt one of the best experiences which I ever had on safari. This was already my 12th safari and my longest safari lasted 2 months and my second longest lasted 6 weeks. The all important wilderness "vibe".I couldn't have been better; elephants were constantly coming into the camp and one could hear their footsteps at night. I also heard lions and many other animals at night. The tents couldn't have been more comfortable and the staff was just excellent as was the food. 

 

 

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You had a best of the best experience.  Eles are a great place to start!

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It all sounds wonderful Owen. Look forward to reading about the trip!

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@optig - look forward to this report.

 

How did you like Katavi as a park? 

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This icombination is on my radar, so I'm really looking forward to hearing more!

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@madaboutcheetah I have to say that without doubt, Katavi is high on my list of favorite safari destinations. There are only three camps there: Chada Katavi, Katavi Wildlife Camp, and Katuma Bush Camp. Chada Katavi has only 6 tents and offers the options of fly camping in two different locations as well as night drives. One could drive off and be in total wilderness far away from the plains where the three camps are located. I went fly camping in two different locations both of which were excellent. I also went on one night drive which was far better than expected. I saw more hippos on land even than on night drives in South Luangwa National Park as well as nightjars, genets and best of a galago(bushbaby) leaping from tree to tree.  A bull elephant bellowed when he saw us and it sent a shiver of delight up my spine. I was again reminded how hippos walk at night with their heads held low because they are  so big and heavy. 

 

As you can see there are plenty of elephants, thanks to PAMS and TANAPA. The good news is true that finally elephant populations are beginning to recover after some truly terrible poaching. I was delighted to see that the TANAPA rangers all had clean new uniforms,  their  boot were well shined and could see that their automatic weapons were clean and well lubricated. I was only surprised that they could all speak English very well. Something that many KWS rangers are incapable of. The rangers were also well motivated and enthusiastic about their job. 

 

I have to say that besides the elephants I saw, plenty of other wildlife there were huge pods of hippos, enormous numbers of crocodiles, the largest herds of buffalo which I have ever seen, enormous herds of topi, many impala, towers of giraffes, brown baboons, zebra, two leopards, two beautiful adult male lions, 5 cubs and two adult female lions. I also saw a herd of eland which came out of nowhere. The birding was of course wonderful and I easily saw 40 new species in the course of a week. 

 

 

 

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Awesome---the lions eluded us on our stay in Katavi but I think it was due to a shake up of the power structure---new male or males had taken over the pride and they were in hiding or something to that effect...I agree it's a great safari destination and in combination with Mahale, it's hard to beat for the contrast...look forward to the rest of your report!

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I have certainly seen lions eating their prey but this was truly something special because this male was eating a buffalo which he had managed to kill himself, usually it requires the entire pride to kill a buffalo. I have also seen videos of a male lion and a male buffalo kill each other and of course buffalo in a one on  one battle with lions will kill them at times. I only learned to appreciate the awesome power of a lion's jaws while watching it tear up the carcass of the buffalo.  

The only unfortunate thing was that tsetse flies which had hitherto had been absent for many days in Katavi National Park, were now out in force because they were drawn to the remains of the buffalo. 

 

I got bitten a couple of time in the foot and leg, but it wasn't a big deal. I was happy to see that there were blue tsetse fly traps in many locations, and they weren't the problem which I feared that they would be. I doubt that I would have seen any of them if it had't been for the corpse of the buffalo. 

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I knew that Katavi had a good sold record for leopard sightings and I wasn't to be disappointed. I saw two gorgeous ladies during my stay there. I couldn't have been happier since none of us could get be bored when we manage to see one. 

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Of course Katavi is known for it's enormous pods of hippos especially during the dry season and again there were literally thousands of them in the river. I really wonder if anyone has ever taken a census of them? 

 

 

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@optig thanks for posting this enthusiastic report of Katavi, the park is very high on my wishlist.

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What time of the year were you there, @optig?

 

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@christopherMoran I was just there for a week at Chada Katavi and four nights at Greystoke Mahale. I arrived at Chada Katavi on August the 10th. I knew that my timing was just optimal.

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Fine looking pods from a mud and dung perspective.  From any perspective that is a phenomenon!

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I also saw many of these lumbering beasts outside of the water, and coming out on land. 

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There were many giraffes and for all of us they are one of our favorite animals. I saw both journey and towers of giraffes. 

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Another thing that Katavi National park is celebrated for is enormous herds of Buffalo that can reach up to three thousands one time. While I never saw the giants mega herds of three thousand, I never was to be disappointed by the number of buffalo that I saw both in herds as well as small groups of dagga boys. 

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My excellent guide Joe was fortunate enough to spot another leopard on the ground and we were lucky enough to photograph it. 

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It doesn't seem to matter how often I see the ballerinas of the animal world-impalas my heart leaps. They are simply so agile and graceful. They are also just lovely. There were also many waterbuck. 

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Posted (edited)

Another thing that Katavi is infamous for, its enormous basks of crocodile. I certainly did see many slithering around. Please note the Grey heron and marabou stork birds.

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Edited by optig
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Posted (edited)

I expected to see many new species of birds and I wasn't disappointed since I saw over 40 new species in the week that I spent in Chada Katavi. And of course I wasn't let down by seeing the usual suspects again. Here is an exceptional bird, palm-nut vulture because it is like a cross between an eagle and a vulture. 

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Edited by optig
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Posted (edited)

And of course there's Africa's imitation of the American bald Eagle, the lovely fish Eagle. 

 

 

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Edited by optig
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Posted (edited)

 It is not only one of Africa's most beautiful birds, it is also one of the most commonly seen on safari. It's also one of Africa's famous iconic species of birds.  

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Edited by optig
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Could someone please identify this bird for me?

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That´s a White-Browed Coucal.

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