The name of the river-themed Ruaha National Park in central Tanzania comes from the Hehe language. The park’s biodiversity depends on its namesake river, the Great Ruaha. Ruaha is one of Tanzania’s least visited destinations, making safaris there feel distant and exclusive while being one of the nation’s largest national parks and abundant in wildlife.
During the dry season, visitors can anticipate seeing a golden savannah dotted with baobab trees and hazy hills stretching into the distance. The grasslands turn a vibrant green from the yearly rains, and the baobab trees blossom.
Predators are always nearby when waterbuck, impala, and gazelle go to the river to drink. As skulking jackal and hyena search for a chance to catch their next meal, you might see lion or leopard patrolling watchfully along the banks or cheetah laying in wait on the plains.
A trip to Ruaha might be paired with a Serengeti safari or a beach vacation in Zanzibar. It also works well as a partner with the Selous Game reserve and Nyerere National Park. Travel to one of Ruaha’s two airports from Arusha or Dar es Salaam.
There are numerous opportunities to see wildlife in Ruaha National Park. This, along with the sparse crowds of travelers, makes it a magnificent location.
Since 2005, the greater Ruaha region has been designated as a Lion Conservation Unit and is home to 10% of the world’s lion population. More than 20 lions in one pride are not unusual to see in the park. Cheetahs can be seen searching the plains for prey, while leopards can be seen stalking the more wooded areas. Despite being on the endangered species list, Ruaha is home to approximately 100 wild dogs. Hyenas and black-backed jackals both have thriving populations.
Elephants assemble around dry riverbeds during the dry season in great concentrations to dig for water with their front feet and trunks. Many buffalo, zebra, giraffe, greater and lesser kudu, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, and impala can also be seen in the park.
There are more than 570 different bird species, including the red-billed hornbill that bears the name Ruaha. Birds that migrate from Europe, Asia, Australia, and Madagascar arrive between February and April when it rains.
RUAHA SAFARI: THE ACTIVITIES
A daytime game drive with Ruaha Safari is the major event. Safaris at night are not allowed. Some camps have opted not to provide walking safaris due to the large number of elephants in Ruaha. Those who do (Kwihala, Jongomero, and Kigelia) have some excellent guides and are able to provide fantastic walking safaris. The only camp that offers fly-camping excursions and thrilling nights spent outside under the stars is Jongomero.
WHERE TO STAY IN RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
There are a few excellent top-tier camps in Ruaha, with Jongomero leading the way for opulent lodging buried away in the deep south of the park. Ikuka offers some of the best game viewing with exceptional views from the escarpment and is near the Mwagusi River. The oldest lodge in the park, Mwagusi, can offer a knock-you-sideways safari experience when owner Chris Fox is in camp. This location is one of our old favorites. Kwihala Camp and Kigelia Camp are two fantastic luxury tented campgrounds for the adventurous, while Mdonya Old River is an excellent option for those on a tighter budget. Ruaha River Lodge is by far the largest camp in Ruaha and is in a fantastic setting, but it is not up to the caliber of the others.
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK SAFARI PRICES
The cost of your stay is heavily influenced by the lodge you choose. At Ruaha, nevertheless, you are looking at pricing ranging from around $400 per person per night all the way up to $1,500 per person per night. The best thing to do is phone us so we can discuss your ideas and select a lodge that is ideal for your taste and budget.
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK BALLOON SAFARIS
A balloon safari is ideal for those looking for a fresh viewpoint on Ruaha’s magnificent terrain while also looking for animals. The feeling of floating above the never-ending nature provides a peacefulness that is difficult to replicate anyplace else. The balloon adventure costs $600 per person, and while this may appear to be an expensive price, we highly suggest the experience. That is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you will not be able to pass up.
RUAHA SAFARI: WHEN TO GO
Ruaha, like the Selous Game reserve, is a quintessential dry-season park. The game gets progressively better towards the conclusion of the dry season as the water holes and rivers dry up and the game concentrates near water. Traveling to Ruaha out of season, like the Selous, nearly guarantees that you will see no other people while on safari, and there are pockets of the park where wildlife concentrations are good at any time of year. From December to March, the birding is spectacular.