Ruaha National Park
Ruaha is the ‘other park’ on the Southern circuit, located in the heart of Tanzania. Because of its remoteness, Ruaha receives significantly fewer visitors than the Selous and any comparable park on the Northern circuit. The rewards of traveling this far are a wild landscape with baobab-studded hills and rocky escarpments, as well as superb wildlife; Ruaha safaris have consistently exciting predator concentrations, as it is home to 10% of the world’s lion population, one of East Africa’s four cheetah populations, and the world’s third largest wild dog population. This is accompanied by massive elephant and buffalo herds, as well as wildlife from both southern and eastern Africa.
Ruaha National Park, Tanzania’s biggest, is wilder and more distant than its southern neighbor Selous Game Reserve, but it offers superior wildlife, but without watercraft safaris. This park is fantastic! Safaris here are among the best in the country and offer excellent value for money. It’s a wild and genuine landscape that’s largely unspoiled.
Ruaha, one of Tanzania’s best-kept (and more cheap) secrets, is an excellent complement and contrast to the Selous, but it would be an excellent addition to any Tanzania safari. The lion watching near Mwagusi is exceptionally gratifying, and overall predator populations across the park are higher than in many other parks in the country. Overall, it is a fantastic safari spot.
Ruaha National Park is located west of the Selous Game Reserve and south of the Serengeti. It is an incredible destination with incredible animals, but its geographical position means it is a longer and more expensive trip, which keeps the number of people low, contributing to its raw and uncommercial atmosphere. There is a new route connecting the Serengeti and Ruaha, although flights from Dar es Salaam and The Selous are also available.
The Game of Ruaha National Park
Ruaha has all of the predators on display, including excellent lion, leopard, and cheetah sightings, as well as wild dog and hyena. Although buffalo and elephant herds may be found throughout the park, it is the park’s bizarre mix of species from east and southern Africa that piques the interest of wildlife and birding aficionados. It is not rare to encounter sable antelope, Grant’s gazelle, larger and lesser kudu, and giraffe in the same habitat as zebra, defassa waterbuck, impala, and giraffe. Put in the time and go throughout the park to see sable, roan, hartebeest, and over 500 bird species.
The major activity is a midday game drive on the Ruaha Safari. Night safaris are not allowed. Because of the abundance of elephants in Ruaha, several lodges have opted not to provide walking safaris. Those that do (Kwihala, Jongomero, and Kigelia) have some excellent guides and can provide great walking safaris. The only camp that offers fly camping experiences with thrilling evenings spent out beneath the stars is Jongomero.
Ruaha, like the Selous, is a quintessential dry-season park. The game improves gradually towards the conclusion of the dry season as the water holes and rivers dry up and the game focuses on water. Traveling to Ruaha out of season, like the Selous, nearly guarantees that you will encounter no other people while on safari, and there are pockets of the park where wildlife densities are high at any time of year. From December through March, the birding is spectacular.