Ruaha National Park 

Ruaha National Park is one of the famous wilderness areas and second-largest national parks in Tanzania and East Africa. The park is located in the centre of Tanzania and covers a total area of 20,226 square kilometers which is comprised of Zambian Miombo, acacia woodlands, swamps, Riverine forests and savannah vegetation which act as habitats for different animals and birds. The national park was established in 1910 by the Germans and it was initially called Saba game reserve. In 1940s the British took over and changed the name to Rungwa game reserve and later in 1964 it was named Ruaha national park after the great Ruaha River, the name Ruaha is a local ‘hehe’ language which means river. The national park has a lot to offer to visitors in terms of attractions and activities that you can engage in to make your safari memorable.

What are the major tourist attractions in Tanzania?

Attractions in Ruaha national park

  • Wildlife, Ruaha national park harbors abundant wildlife species including animals like elephants, lions, buffaloes, giraffes, hippos, zebras, impalas, elands, greater kudus, lesser kudu, roan and sable antelopes, bat eared foxes, jackals, predators like lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs among others which are rarely seen during the game drives. The park also harbors reptiles and amphibians such as crocodiles, monitor lizards, agama lizards, frogs, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes,  
  • Birds, Ruaha national park is a home of over 450 bird species which makes it one of the birding paradise, bird species in the park include the endemic species, near-endemic, water birds, migratory species from Europe, Asia, Australia and Madagascar. birds in the park include crested barbet, yellow collared lovebird, ashy starling, red billed hornbill, giant kingfisher, white brown coucal, spur winged coucal, African fish eagle, black bellied bustard, goliath heron, long crested eagle, namaqua dove, southern ground hornbill, white bellied go away bird,
  • Rivers, the national park has rivers such as the greater Ruaha, Mdonya, Mwagusi, Mzombe and Jongomero Rivers which are of great ecological, economical and social significance to the park for wildlife during the dry season and human beings where they are used to support agricultural activities and also contribute to hydro electric power.
  • Cultural and historical sites, Ruaha national park has several historical and cultural sites hence believed to be an ancient land that holds many secrets of chief Mkwawa. There are some of the cultural sites that were used for rituals and they include Ganga la Mafunyo, Painting rock at Nyanywa, Nyanywa and Chahe, Gogo chief Mapenza grave at Mpululu, Mkwawa spring area which was believed to be used by Chief Mkwawa among others. Historical sites include Lugalo, God’s bridge, Kalenga, Mlambalasi, Isimila pillars which are found near Iringa town 
  • Rift valley, Ruaha national park is crossed by the Great Rift Valley with escarpment walls rising between 50 to 100meters in height and it’s believed that the Great Ruaha River which flows for 160km long is an extension of the Great Rift Valley. 
  • Undulating landscape, Ruaha national park harbors undulating landscape and hills which act as habitats for different animals like klipspringer. The landscapes include Magangwe, Chariwindwi, Kilimamatonge, Nyamasombe, Igawira, Mwayiui, Isukanvyiola, Kibiriti, Ndetamburwa among others.

Top things to do in Ruaha national park

Game drive, game drive is one of the interesting activities to engage in on your safari in Ruaha national park. The game drive in the park can either be done very early in the morning so as to get an opportunity to spot predators when heading back to their hiding areas or in the evening to view animals going back to their resting places. During the game drive you will follow various tracks where you will be able to spot large concentrations of elephants, buffaloes and also spot other animals like wild dogs, zebras, giraffes, greater and lesser kudus, impalas, elands, leopards, sable, roan antelopes, different bird species like the Tanzanian red billed hornbill among others. 

Night game drive, Ruaha national park is one of the protected areas in Tanzania which offer the exciting night game drive. Night game drives in the park are carried out with the help of armed park rangers and spotlight touches for easy viewing of the nocturnal animals which get more active at night. During the night game drive you will be able to view nocturnal animals like genets, wild cats, leopards, bat eared foxes, bush babies, jackals, night jars, hyenas, hippos feeding, enjoy whispers of the night among others.  

Guided nature walks, Ruaha national park offers guided nature walk safaris which gives visitors an opportunity to explore the park on foot. Guided nature walks are done with the company of an armed park ranger and during this adventurous activity you will follow different trails where you will be able to spot different tree species, plants, walk near animals like elephants, waterbucks, warthogs, bushbucks, giraffes, zebras, impala, lions, listen to sweet sounds of bird species, relax your mind in a quiet and peaceful environment, breath fresh air, have spectacular views of the landscape, bird species flying up in the air, take great pictures among others.

Bird watching, Ruaha national park is a home of over 450 bird species which makes it one of the birders paradise in Tanzania with migratory birds from Europe, water birds, endemic and near endemic species which can be viewed in the acacia savannah and Miombo woodland vegetation and along the water bodies. The bird species include ashy starling, yellow collared lovebird, pale billed hornbill, racket tailed roller, crested barbet, violet crested turaco, sooty falcon, African hawk, snake eagles, bateleur, African fish eagle, black bellied bustard, goliath heron, white bellied go away bird, Tanzanian red billed hornbill, collared palm thrush among others. 

Best time to visit Ruaha national park

The park can be visited all year round but the best time to visit is during the dry season in the months of June to October. During the dry season the vegetation in the park will be thin and animals will gather around the water sources hence giving you an opportunity to spot different animals.  The month of June is also the best breeding season for the male greater kudus.

The park can also be visited during the wet season in the months of January to April because during this period there is heavy rainfall which makes vegetation in the park lush and green hence attracting migratory bird species which makes it the best period for bird watching.

How to get to Ruaha national park

The national park is located in one of the remote areas in Tanzania and it can be accessed by both road and air transport means. 

Road transport, when travelling to Ruaha national park by road you will either go in a safari vehicle from our company or go for a self drive in your own car. Ruaha National Park is located about 130km drive from Iringa town and 625km from Dare Es Salaam city, you can also hire a taxi which will take you to the park directly.

Air transport, Ruaha national park can also be accessed by air transport means whereby you can book a scheduled or chattered flight from Arusha, Dodoma, Dare Es Salaam, Kigoma to either Msembe or Jongomero airstrips in the park. 

Ruaha National Park
Lion in Ruaha

Where to stay on your safari in Ruaha

There a number of accommodation facilities ranging from luxury, midrange and budget where you can stay during your safari in Ruaha national park and they include Kwihala Camp, Jongomero Camp, Ikuka Camp, Kilimatonge Camp, Ruaha River Lodge, Kigelia Ruaha Camp, Mwagusi Safari Camp, Jabali Ridge, Mdonya Old River Camp, Kickaka Camp, Jabali Private House, Asanja Ruaha Ndembo among others. 

For incredible experiences and breathtaking views Ruaha national park is the best destination to visit on your safari in Tanzania, you can therefore contact Focus East Africa Tours to book yourself a safari or to know more about Ruaha national park.

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