Ruaha National Park

If you want a superb wildlife experience in beautiful scenery and with few people, Ruaha in southern Tanzania has got to be near the top of your list.

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha is an enormous national park, the largest in Tanzania, at over 2,020,000 hectares, in the heart of the country. It is defined by varied scenery including open plains, hills, baobabs and the mighty Ruaha River, diverse wildlife and remote location. Getting here requires more of an effort (it takes about 2 hours to fly here from Dar) than the better known northern parks, but those that do visit are rewarded with an untamed wilderness free from crowds and rich in wildlife, many come back again and again. Ruaha combines well with Selous, a short flight away.

Things to do in Ruaha National Park

  • Game drive – this is the core of your Ruaha safari. With a rugged 4x4 vehicle at your disposal you can cover great distances to witness the different habitats and discover the diverse game and predators. 4 of the Big 5 are found here (there are no longer any rhinos) as well as many species of antelope, zebra, giraffe, cheetah, hyena and wild dog. Game drives are sure to be exciting!
  • Put your best foot forward – many of the camps in Ruaha offer walking safaris (though not all of them do). It’s a superb way to experience this stunning wilderness area. Heighten your senses as you accompany your expert guide on foot.
  • Flycamping – If sleeping out under the stars is something you would like to experience, Jongomero offers fly camping during the dry season. You are drive half way to the camp and then leave the vehicle to continue with your guide on foot for about 6km.  An advance party will have set up the camp for you.  The following morning starts early as you walk the full 12km back to camp along the river appreciating all the smaller things you see on the way.
  • Bird watching – Birding in Ruaha is particularly rewarding with over 450 species recorded, migratory birds are present from November to April. Some of Tanzania’s endemics are found here such as the ashy starling and Tanzanian red-billed hornbill.
  • Photography – with dramatic, varied scenery and an abundance of wildlife, you will most probably leave with thousands of images that you will need to process – you can relive your Ruaha experience from the comfort of your own living room.

When to visit Ruaha National Park

The best months for wildlife viewing are June to November, the dry season, when there is less vegetation and animals congregate at known water sources.  April is one of the wettest months (though generally still drier than Selous), and whilst May can be wet too, we actually still think it’s a gorgeous, lush month to come if you don’t mind a bit of rain.

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APRIL TO MAY

  • No flights come into Ruaha during April and May.
  • It’s possible to travel here by road, but it’s a difficult journey, especially if it is wet.
  • Most accommodations close in April and May (some from mid-March).
  • April is one of the wettest months (though generally still drier than Selous).
  • Ruaha River Lodge stays open all year if you do want to take the road journey here.
  • May can be wet too, but we actually still think it’s a gorgeous, lush month to come if you don’t mind a bit of rain.

MAY TO OCTOBER

  • This is classed as the dry season when wildlife viewing is at its best, animals will gather at the water sources
  • Vegetation is sparse making wildlife easier to spot
  • There are fewer mosquitos at this time of year
  • There is hardly any rain to spoil your experience
  • Early mornings and evenings can be cold
  • The landscape is dry and dusty

NOVEMBER TO APRIL

  • Vegetation is lush and green, perfect for photography
  • This is the quiet time, with fewer tourists
  • Some camps offer special rates
  • Birding is excellent at this time of year
  • Mid-March to early May sees the heaviest rainfall
  • Wildlife viewing is not as good as the dry season
  • Some of the roads will be treacherous making travel difficult
  • It’s a hot and humid time to travel

Where to stay in Ruaha National Park

As you might imagine with its remote location, there are a handful of camps in Ruaha. They tend to be a little more rustic than in other areas, but the service and guiding is still excellent, focus here is on the wildlife and the safari experience rather than the thread-count on your sheets.

Wildebeest

The Great Wildebeest Migration

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