Ruaha National Park
Often overshadowed by the larger parks on Tanzania's Northern Circuit, Ruaha's remote location makes it a perfect destination for those seeking somewhere off the beaten track, wild and adventurous.
Located in the heart of the country, Ruaha is Tanzania's largest National Park boasting a diverse landscape and a plethora of wildlife. Named after the Great Ruaha River, which travels along its south-east border, Ruaha is a wilder character than its neighbour, Selous Game Reserve, and its remote location means it benefits from fewer tourists. Add to that first-rate guiding, high-quality camps and the highest concentrations of predators anywhere in Africa; it's easy to see why Ruaha is Tanzania's hidden gem.
GETTING TO RUAHA
Part of Ruaha's appeal is its relative inaccessibility; thus fewer visitors, however frequent flights from Dar, Arusha, the Serengeti, Kigoma, and Dodoma to the local airstrips, Msembe and Jongomero mean this vast safari paradise can be enjoyed by those looking for true wilderness and big game viewing.
GAME TO RUAHA
Ruaha is arguably Africa's best destination for big cats. Lion roams in large prides here, plus cheetah can often be seen hunting on the open plains. The park also has a good reputation for sighting the elusive leopard, meaning it's possible to see all three big cat species, along with their smaller cousins, serval, caracal, civet, genet and banded wildcat. The endangered wild dog also lives here, around 100 at the last count, and jackal and hyena are always on the lookout for their next meal. Whilst rhino have not been in Ruaha in some years, Buffalo and elephant herds are found throughout the park and other mammals are plentiful too including zebra, giraffe and hippopotamus, plus a variety of antelope species such as roan, sable, eland, impala, gazelle, reedbuck, hartebeest and klipspringer. Both the lesser and greater kudu can also be found here. Ruaha is a bird lovers paradise with over 570 species of birds found within the park, including hornbills, raptors, bee-eaters, rollers. It is also home to the rare Eleonora's Falcon in December and January. Ruaha's unique location means it is blessed with species from both Southern and Eastern Africa, making it a top destination for wildlife and birdwatching enthusiasts alike.
ACTIVITIES IN RUAHA
Daytime game drives are the main activity in Ruaha, with some lodges also offering walking safaris. With visitor numbers lower than Tanzania's other parks, there's a distinct feeling that you have this authentic environment all to yourself. Jongomero is the only camp to operate fly camping trips for adventurous nights under the stars, and hot air balloon flights over the park offer a unique perspective. Night drives are not permitted.
WHEN TO GO
Ruaha is a perfect addition to any Tanzania itinerary and is a particularly good contrast to neighbouring Selous. And like its neighbour is best visited in the peak of the dry season, from July through to the end of October, when Ruaha's immense volume of game is focused around the park's rivers and drying water sources.