One of East Africa’s most biodiverse safari destinations, Ruaha also now ranks as the largest national park in Tanzania, protecting a wild 20,220 km2 tract of wooded rocky slopes, open plains and seasonal wetlands that drain into the Great Ruaha River. Famed for its large number of elephants, which are still substantial despite recent poaching, Ruaha only ranks a short way behind the Serengeti-Mara when it comes to lion and other big cat sightings, and it is one of the few place anywhere on the continent to support a viable population of the endangered African wild dog. Other attractions include an unusually varied selection of ungulates, and some excellent birdwatching. But above all, perhaps, it is Ruaha’s wild and untrammelled feel that sets it part, and that has made it the favourite of many regular East African safari-goers. This wilderness feel is reflected in the park’s limited accommodation which comprises half-a-dozen small and exclusive permanent camps and a few semi-permanent ones, scattered far more widely than their counterparts in Selous. Ruaha’s remote location — more than 600 km from Dar es Salaam, including a rough and dusty 100 km drive west from Iringa — means that the overwhelming majority of visitors fly into one of these camps, which generally offer all-inclusive upmarket packages incorporating expertly guided game drives and in some cases guided walks. But Ruaha is also becoming a popular target for more budget-conscious travellers thanks to a proliferation of small lodges that lie between the main entrance gate and Tungamalenga 18 km to its east and ofter day safaris into the park. Ruaha is the best visited between July and November, when animals concentrate around the river. Internal raods may be impassable towards the end of the rainy season (March – May).

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