Gazetted as a National Park in 2019 Burigi Chato covers 4,707 sq. km making it the 4th largest National Park in Tanzania.
Stretching from Lake Victoria in the East to the Rwandan boundary in the West Burigi Chato is an enormous piece of the wild country encompassing freshwater lakes, long hills, rocky crags along escarpments, deeply set valleys lined with forest, open plains, swamps, rivers, flood plains and hundreds of square kilometers of medium and tall grass wooded savanna – mostly Combretum and Terminalia known as Miombo.
A key attraction in this National Park is the lakes with Lake Burigi being the 3rd largest lake in the country. It is a long lake with a number of islands, inlets, and bays along its length, some of which are swampy and are home to the rare sitatunga antelope, and possibly also the even rarer shoebill stork.
All the lakes lie along winding valleys lined with trees and occasional palms. They are tranquil and beautiful and provide wonderful opportunities for boating and water-borne game viewing, as well as sites for camps and small lodges.
There is an atmosphere here of untouched remote wilderness, and that a lifetime of exploring would not reveal all its corners and treasures.
Weather & Climate
This part of East Africa has two rainfall peaks. One in November / December and another in March / April, with dry weather from June to September. Temperatures are pleasant with cool nights and warm days. From June to October conditions are dry and wildlife will be increasingly concentrated around the lakes and the many freshwater springs found throughout the Park. The green season starts in October with the first rains, but the hilly terrain and stony soils make access possible to most areas, and wildlife spreads out through green wooded valleys and numerous small plains.
Wildlife at Burigi-Chato
Wildlife numbers are increasing throughout the Park with Elephant, Buffalo, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, eland, warthog, roan, topi, impala, sable, and many other smaller species being regularly seen. Oribi is also commonly found. A less common species is the swamp-dwelling sitatunga. The big cat’s lion, leopard, and cheetah are present and can be enjoyed on many a game drive. There are also many crocodiles and hippo in the lakes and Rivers.
Things to do
- Game viewing by vehicle or from a boat,
- Guided hiking
How to get there
The nearest local town is Chato which has an International Airport, and private charters are possible to an airstrip near the Nkonje Ranger Post beside Lake Burigi, or to the Birahamulo airstrip.
Chato to the Katete Gate is 40 km.
Currently, there are public and special campsites and moves are underway to encourage permanent camps and lodges.
Burigi Chato National Park makes a perfect beginning or endpoint for a boat or yacht tour of the southern shores and islands of Lake Victoria. Such a safari could also start or end at Musoma, and would include visits to Saanane and Rubondo Island National Parks.