5 Things to do on a Safari in Ruaha National Park
5 Things to do on a Safari in Ruaha National Park: Ruaha national park is the largest protected area located in the southern part of Tanzania about 130 kilometers west of Iringa. The park was established in 1910 as Saba game reserve by Germany, in 1946 the British colonial authorities changed the name to Rungwa game reserve and in 1964 a small part of the southeastern part of the Great Ruaha River was incorporated into a national park. Ruaha national park covers a total area of 20,226 square kilometers which is composed of different vegetation types such as Miombo woodlands, open savannah biomes, acacia, baobab trees animals including elephants, buffaloes, hartebeest, greater kudus, giraffes, zebras, defassa waterbucks, impala, bushbucks, roan and sable antelopes, gazelle, lesser kudu, lions, cheetahs, leopards, black-backed jackals, spotted hyenas, colorful bird species among others. The national park derives its name from the great Ruaha River which is 475km long and flows along the margin in the southeastern part and it’s also a major point for game viewing. There are 5 interesting things that you can engage in during your safari in Ruaha national park and they include
- Game drives
Game drive is one of the major activities in Ruaha national park where you drive around the park following different game tracks in a 4WD pop up safari vehicle with an experienced driver guide. Game drives in the park are best done very early in the morning when wildlife is still active and late in the afternoon. During the game drive you will be able to view large herds of elephants, buffaloes, roan and sable antelopes, zebras, giraffes, impala, greater kudu, view predators like lions, leopards, wild dogs, cheetahs before going back to their hiding areas. You will also drive along the great Ruaha River where you will have great views of abundant wildlife.
- Night game drive
Ruaha national park is one of the protected areas in Tanzania which offer the adventurous night game drive where you will drive around the park at night to view nocturnal animals. During the night game drive you will be accompanied by a professional driver in a 4WD safari vehicle with spotlight torches and an armed park guide who will help you to spot nocturnal animals like wild cats, leopards, lions, bush babies, bat eared fox, genets, nightjars, civet, spotted hyenas, serval cats among others. You will also be able to view hippos grazing, beautiful stars, listen to the night sounds among others.
- Guided nature walks
This is an amazing activity where tourists get an opportunity to explore the park on foot in company of an armed park ranger who is well conversant with different walking trails. The park offers short walks which take about 1 to 4 hours, long walks which take more than 5 hours and during the guided nature walks tourists will get up close and personal to animals in their natural habitat, plant and tree species, view colorful butterflies, enjoy the peaceful environment, relax your mind, have beautiful views of the sunrise/sunset, bird species flying up in the air, listen to sweet sounds of birds singing in the trees, take beautiful photos among others.
- Bird watching
Ruaha national park is one of the top birding destinations in Tanzania in that it harbors more that 470 bird species including endemic species which are only restricted to central Tanzania, migratory species and water species. Bird watching in the park can be carried out very early in the morning with an experienced bird guide in the acacia savannah and miombo woodlands where bird lovers will be able to spot different birds species such as bateleur, African fish eagle, crested barbet, goliath heron, namaqua dove, ashy starling, Tanzanian red billed hornbill, yellow collared lovebird, white bellied go away bird, collared palm thrush, giant kingfisher, spur winged goose, racket tailed roller, pels fishing owl, African hawk, green wood hoopoe among others.
- Cultural tours
Cultural tour is an amazing add on activity where tourists are allowed to visit the Hehe people in the neighboring villages. During the cultural tour you will be able to interact with the local people where you will learn about their way of life, culture, dress code, history, view their homesteads, listen to their ancient stories, taste their food, visit their farmlands, schools, buy some craft items among others.
When to visit Ruaha national park
Ruaha national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to October because during this period there is less vegetation in the park which gives you an opportunity to clearly view animals grazing in the open plains. During the dry season, animals gather around the water points to drink water which gives you an opportunity to have great wildlife views and take amazing photos.
The national park can also be visited in the rainy season during the months of March to May and November because this is the best time for bird watching where bird lovers will be able to view migratory and colorful bird species.
Getting to Ruaha national park
Ruaha national park can be accessed by either road or air transport means and when using road you will drive from Dar es Salaam to the park headquarters which takes about 9 hours on a dusty and bumpy road.
Air transport, Ruaha national park can also be accessed by air transport whereby you will book scheduled or charter flights from Dar es Salaam and Arusha to Jongomero or Msembe airstrips which takes about one hour and flights can be booked by your tour operator.