In Tanzania’s southern zone, is the country’s second-largest national park after the Nyerere National park-Ruaha National park which is one of the excellent game viewing parks in Tanzania. The park supports a great number of predators with most and large prides, wild dogs, and other large mammals like the elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, and antelopes. The 20226sqkm national park is better explored during the dry season when the Great Ruaha River and other water sources draw the animals.
The changing landscape and baobab trees that dot the sides of the rocky hills and the addition of the green shade along the river make the open grassy plains magnificent.
Wildlife at the park
Famous at the Ruaha, are the three lion prides, the Glade, Baobab, and the Njaa pride but the park has an incredible list of wildlife and creatures that create great sightings and scenes in the wilderness. The prides are complemented by the availability of prey and the park hosts 10% of the world’s population of lions and a healthy population of dogs, hyenas, jackals, and other life.
The park also hosts 574 bird species and if you are a serious bird watcher, carving out time to spend time in Ruaha National park gives you a mix of birds from raptors, water birds, and savanna species both from southern and Eastern Africa and even some migratory birds.
To do at the park
· Game drives
The park’s pristine wilderness can be experienced on the drive through the park on an open vehicle. The drives follow the network of tracks and reach deep and close to the buffalo herds, elephants, lions, leopards, crocodiles by the river, hippos, and birds like Ostriches and other big birds that roam the park. The day game drives are amazing but night game drives give a different perspective of the park and game viewing and another perspective of Ruaha National park like never before. Night game drives are an opportunity to see nocturnal wildlife and predators more active at night.
· Walking Safari
Walking is always an amazing way to always experience any wilderness area. It takes guests more close to wildlife and provides a chance to learn more details like tracking animals by their tracks, watching birds, small creatures, and their biology, and they are always at a slow pace, not in a rush.
· Balloon Safaris
Aerial views and aerial shots that are not by a drone. Experience flights in a hot air balloon over the spectacular landscape. Soar high with the birds of Ruaha and watch game from heights and in an unusual way.
575 bird species are recorded at the park. These include a great mix of birds from the south and the Eastern areas. The park has endemics like the Yellow-collared love birds, the Ashy Starling, Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill. The park also hosts raptors, vultures (6 vulture species that include the Ruppell’s, White-headed, white-backed, and hooded vultures). The rainy season (usually from the end of November to May) is the best season for birding season at Ruaha National Park.
All the life at the park, landscape, vegetation (Baobab trees) that shed off leaves in the dry season, create a spectacular environment for photography and filming. The park doesn’t attract masses like the Famous Ngorongoro, Serengeti, and this ranks it better when it comes to game viewing.
- Historical and cultural tours
These are tales of the past and unforgettable stories at the park. Here you can visit the Mkwakwa museum, form chief Mapenza’s grave, rock paintings at Idinda, Nyanywa, and Ganga La Mafunyo. These added to the wildlife encounters make a trip to Ruaha National park, an interesting one.
By road from Iringa town, the park is 110km to the main gate and 625km and 480km from Dar es Salaam and Mbeya City respectively. And by air, visitors can access daily flights from Arusha or Dar es Salaam to Msembe and Jongomero Airstrips.
Where to stay
The park has public camping spaces with facilities of ease (toilets, shower rooms, and fireplaces), cottages, and bandas owned by the park for budget options. There are also private accommodation facilities like Ikuka Tented Camp, Jabali Private House, and River Lodge, Kichaka Expedition Camp, Kigelia Camp, Kwihala-Asilia Camp, Mdonya Tented Camp, Mwangusi Safari Camp, Mdonya Old River Camp, among others.