Lwafi Game Reserve is one of the most isolated and unchartered game reserves in Tanzania, covering 2,200 square kilometres of land. Rippling hilly terrain with sectors of Miombo woodland, valley forest, and riverine forest characterise the landscape of the reserve.
Located close to Katavi National Park, Lwafi is a completely undiscovered reserve. The reserve’s presence is significant in that it’s a corridor for wildlife movement between two protected areas. Elephants are the most notable species using the corridor and move back-and-forth between Zambia and Tanzania. Of particular importance are the chimpanzee populations, which were first sighted in 2014.
The reserve is situated just off the Tanzania-Zambia road, which is the most popular route for experienced self-drivers. The easiest access point for international visitors is from Dar es Salaam. From here, the international airport connects flights to outlying airports close to Lwafi. Namanyere is the closest local airport, but there are others with a more consistent flight schedule.
There’s such rich biodiversity in Lwafi Game Reserve, with prolific wildlife. Because the area is relatively unknown, not much has been documented in terms of sightings. However, in 2014 a sub-population of chimpanzee was discovered in the forested area.
In total, the wildlife count for mammals is 51 species. Big game such as lion, leopard, and buffalo are found within the reserve; but it does require skills to find these species. There are also hippo, zebra, sable, roan, cheetah, giraffe, waterbuck and the rare Puku found in these parts. The most notable species in the area is the elephant populations that move seasonally move across the migration corridor.
Game viewing is possible all year round, but like most safari destinations, the peak game viewing period is during the dry season. The dry season is from June to November/December. The dry season means that water sources are scarce, meaning wildlife gather at waterholes and other known water sources in the area.
This undiscovered reserve is an exciting place for the avid explorer and conservationist. The protected areas around this migration corridor have many conservation initiatives underway, worthy of exploring or even getting involved in. These include various beekeeping projects and even anti-poaching initiatives. The path for conservation safaris is being paved.
Photographic safaris are yet another major drawcard to the area and provide a unique way of uncovering the treasures of the wild. There are walking paths and game drive routes within the reserve, but they’re not well-utilised.
Visitors should hire a local guide for expert knowledge about the area, who can lead avid photographers into well-known game viewing areas. Because of its proximity to various lakes, a fishing trip into one of the waterlogged areas makes a perfect combination safari.
There is no accommodation for tourists in Lwafi Game Reserve, apart from rudimentary camping options. The best bet for safari-goers chasing standard safari camps and lodge accommodation is to stay inside Katavi National Park in traditional safari camps. Alternatively, there are always accommodation options in the smaller villages around the reserves and parks.