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If you like the idea of exploring the remote and unspoilt wilderness with some of the most interesting wildlife anywhere in Africa, then this sample itinerary offers that in abundance. With light aircraft flights operating just twice a week and taking six or seven hours to get to Katavi, it is little wonder that so few visit these breathtaking places. Mahale is just a further one hour and 20 minutes from Katavi and then the onward journey to the little-known Pemba island features an overnight stop en route.
Can it be worth all of the travelling? Without a doubt, yes. Katavi is renowned for playing host to some of the largest gatherings of buffalo and hippo on the planet, with a further mix of prey and predator including lions, hyenas, elephants, topi, giraffes and cave dwelling crocodiles to name but a few. Mahale is beautiful: set on the edge of a vast lake with thick forested mountains behind, it is home to a 60-strong troop of chimpanzees that are well habituated to human contact. Trekking through the virgin jungle to find the chimps is an adventure in itself and is an incredibly moving experience.
The itinerary finishes with a stay on Pemba Island and, despite only taking 20 minutes by light aircraft to reach from Zanzibar, it feels like another world. Think deserted, powder-white sandy beaches, crystal clear Indian ocean and some of the best snorkelling and diving in the archipelago, providing the perfect finish such a phenomenal itinerary.
1 night Arusha – 3 nights Katavi – 4 nights Mahale – 1 night Arusha – 5 nights Pemba