Ruaha National Park
Safaris in Ruaha National Park are all about authentic bush experiences with abundant wildlife, diverse landscapes and few other visitors. Home to the highest concentration of elephants in all of East Africa, as well as plentiful predators and an impressive number of bird species, Ruaha is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.
About Ruaha National Park
Located to the north of the Selous Game Reserve on Tanzania’s southern safari circuit, Ruaha is the country’s largest national park at roughly 20,226 km². Rocky escarpments, wooded hills dotted with large baobabs, and patches of open savannah make up the landscape here. Named after the Great Ruaha River which runs along the south-eastern border, the area gained national park status back in 1910. Ruaha was expanded in 1946 and again in 2008 and today is part of the larger Rungwa-Kizingo-Muhesi ecosystem.
Due to the park’s remote location, Ruaha receives fewer visitors than the nearby Selous Game Reserve and considerably less than any of the other safari destinations in northern Tanzania. As a result, Ruaha National Park safaris really are an authentic experience in Africa’s bush.
The best way to get to Ruaha National Park is on one of the daily flights from either Dar es Salaam or Selous Game Reserve. Access by road from Dar es Salaam is possible but not advisable due to long distances on bumpy and poorly maintained roads.
Ruaha National Park Wildlife Safaris
The amount of wildlife seen on tailor-made Ruaha safaris is incredible. Predators such as leopard, cheetah, and hyena all thrive within Ruaha, which is also home to 10% of Africa’s lions and the third-largest African wild dog population in the world.
Ruaha is said to have the highest concentration of elephants in East Africa, with approximately 16,000 individuals living within the park and its wider ecosystem. Sightings of large herds of elephant and buffalo are common on bespoke Ruaha safaris. Giraffe and zebra are also frequently seen, along with plentiful plains game, including both lesser and greater kudu, and rare species such as roan and sable antelope.
During the dry season between June and October, much of the wildlife congregates near the banks of the Great Ruaha River. Game drives during this time of year are exceptional with large numbers of animals in one place. Due to the lack of rain, the river becomes shallow and crocodile and hippo can be found jostling for space in the few remaining areas with any depth.
Game drives in 4×4s are the safest and most effective way to enjoy a luxury Ruaha safari. Wildlife encounters are far more frequent in a vehicle than on foot as you’ll be able to cover much wider areas of ground. Some camps within the park do offer walking safaris but others don’t due to the high number of elephants in Ruaha. The camps that do offer them use the services of expert guides who know the area and the animals well. For those interested in walking safaris in Ruaha, choosing the correct camp is vital. Specialist safaris such as birding-specific and photography holidays are also available.
Bird Watching in Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is one of the best places for bird watching in Tanzania, with recorded species exceeding 570, including the endemic Ashy starling and the Tanzanian red-billed hornbill. The yellow-collared lovebird is another of Ruaha’s highlights and is a near-endemic species. Birding in Ruaha is best during the wetter months between November and May, when migratory birds are often found in the region.
Best Places to Stay in Ruaha National Park
There are a number of comfortable safari camps and lodges in Ruaha National Park. Each is different so it’s important to choose the right one to ensure the safari experience is suited to your requirements. This is particularly applicable for those interested in enjoying walking safaris in Ruaha National Park as not every camp or lodge offers this.
Best Time to Visit Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is best visited during the dry season between June and October, when animals congregate around the banks of the Great Ruaha River, making them easier to spot. As a general rule, the later it is in the dry season the more animals will be near the water.
Between the months of November and May Ruaha experiences its wet season. During this time the park is very quiet and you are unlikely to see any other visitors. Game viewing can be more difficult as the vegetation is much thicker, but birding at this time of year is particularly good. Ruaha’s all-weather road network means that travel around the park is possible year-round. During the months of April and May some of the camps and lodges in Ruaha close and the number of weekly flights into the park reduces.
Weather During the Year
How to Book a Ruaha National Park Safari Holiday
To discuss your Tanzania safari holiday, Ruaha safari packages and tailor-made itineraries, speak to one of our Tanzania experts today by contacting us.