Introduction to Chada Katavi

January 12, 2011  By: Africa Adventure Consultants

Before the next installment of Gretchen’s trip reports, here is an introduction to the next destination that will be covered. In the (slightly edited/condensed) words of the camp managers themselves (thank you Mark and Kristen!).

It’s a good day in Chada Katavi, slightly overcast, winds out of some direction or other, chance of rain a strong maybe, chances of sunshine about the same, and chances of us winning a writing award, nil. From today onward, “Chada” will be how we refer to the camp where we live and host safari guests, and “Katavi” will mean we’re talking about the national park in which Chada camp is nestled.

Simply stated: when in Chada, if you walk for days in any direction, seeing another human is not an expected outcome. What you will see are animals. Animals by the savanna-load, so to speak. Herds of buffalo, pods of hippo, prides of lions, flocks of vultures, journeys of giraffe, melodies of larks, blah blah blah. Some people spend hours trying to figure out what a bunch of zebras should be called. We call them a beautiful gathering of wild, striped horses, faster than most other animals out here, except some types of antelope and, of course, the cheetah!

We spend our working hours being civilized, studying wildife behaviour, patterns, seasonal migrations…
We have dinner parties with our guests in a big tent, with some rather fine dining, if we do say so ourselves…
We take people on professionally guided walks and drives and our local guides’ knowledge is staggering…
Sometimes our guests do some staggering of their own…

Tomorrow we are expecting 6 guests, that means our camp will be exactly half full. Yes, we are tiny. Not only are we tiny, but the camp is too. 6 big tents on decks with outdoor showers. The tents are, I just told you, big, so there is space inside for beds, tables, old fashoned wardrobes…it’s really not too bad.

Only the insane drive here, so no offense to those few of you who have driven in this season, but the way to get here is to fly. Even by air, people step off the plane, turn in a bewildered circle, and then sprint to the nearest bush to ‘check the tires’. These little planes don’t have toilets and the flight is long. The drive here takes 4 days from Arusha. 4 days! Having worked in southern Sudan, Kenya, Burundi and Uganda before, we really thought we were living in the middle of nowhere. Maybe we were, but if that was the middle of nowhere, this is another planet.

I can attest to the remoteness, the animals, the dining, the guides’ knowledge…and more. Look to my next trip report for all of the details on this amazing spot.

Photos courtesy Gretchen Healey