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  Western Tanzania
The western circuit:
· Katavi National Park
· Gombe Stream National Park
· Mahale Mountains N.P.
 
 
Destination facts:
Western Tanzania
Western Tanzania has fairly few visitors, as the region is less known than the north and south, and as distances to the major entry points to the country are long.

The main parks of the west are Katavi, an interesting area for safaris, and Gombe and Mahale, which are both set on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and homes to chimpanzees.

Domestic flights to Kigoma connect the west with Arusha and Dar es Salaam. Going there by road is not feasible for most visitors.

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Herd of African buffalos.

Katavi National Park
Katavi is a select destination for safari-goers prepared to pay more to visit a remote wildlife area of good quality, far from the crowds.

The park is a land of open plains, forests, bushlands, lakeshores and wetlands, known for its huge herds of African buffalos, many hippos and crocodiles, and generally good wildlife. The dry seasons from June to October are especially good, as the animals congregate around the few permanent water sources. The herbivores are represented by elephants, giraffes, zebras, impalas, reedbucks, roans, sables and others, the large predators by lions, leopards and spotted hyaenas.

The park has a few small camps and lodges offering good comfort. A normal stay is at least two days, preferably more if Katavi is the only savanna park in your itinerary. The only realistic way of getting there is by chartered flight – an interesting combination is a fly-in safari to both Katavi and Ruaha.

More about Katavi
 

Female hippo and her calf.

Gombe Stream National Park
Gombe is the smallest national park in Tanzania, and may be best known as the site for Jane Goodall's research on chimpanzees. The park is set on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, and is covered by woodlands, forests and steep valleys. The chimpanzees are the main attraction, but there are also many species of monkeys and some herbivore wildlife.

Gombe has one small tented lodge on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, accessed by boat from Kigoma. A stay is minimum two nights to allow time for chimpanzee trekking, but more time can be spent exploring the forests, relaxing, swimming and snorkelling.

More about Gombe Stream
 

Troop of baboons.

Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale is, like Gombe, set on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. It's a hilly park, featuring mountains peaks up to 2,462 m/8,077 ft. Much of Mahale is covered in miombo woodland, but there are also forests, mountain forests and bamboo forests. Most visitors come for the chimpanzees, but there are also many monkeys, and the eastmost part of the park has safari wildlife such as lions, giraffes, elephants, wild dogs and roan antelopes.

The park has two lodges, both situated on the shore. The reasonable length of a stay depends much on your interests. You may want to spend one or two days exploring the park, and add more time for swimming, fishing, snorkelling or boating.

More about Mahale Mountains

Other parks/areas
In addition to the above, there are a number of game reserves that receive very few visitors, for example Uwanda, Ugalla, Kigosi and Moyowosi Game Reserves. These parks are mainly poor as to infrastructure for tourism, park management, wildlife conservation etc, and should only be considered by safari-goers prepared to trade comfort for experiences way off the beaten track.

 
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Page updated 8 June 2012