Ruaha National Park
A remote and incredibly diverse landscape in south Tanzania known for its ancient baobabs, elephants, lions and superb birdlife, all sustained by the Great Ruaha River.
On our way to Mdonya Old River Camp late afternoon on our first day in the Ruaha, we came across a pack of lions by the side of the track. They had just killed an impala and were all fighting over it. An amazing sight, and the noise...!
Getting to Ruaha is more expensive than some other parks in Tanzania but in our view it is hugely worth it. The scenery is beautiful with thousands of ancient baobabs dotting the landscape backed by rocky escarpments and rolling hills. The Great Ruaha River is the main water source in the park flowing for much of the year (it’s often dry from mid-September for around three months).
- Wildlife of Ruaha: Ruaha has frankly amazing wildlife. 575 species of birds including two endemics (Ruaha chat and Ruaha hornbill). Mammals include about 17 lion prides, a small cheetah population, leopards and other predators such as jackals, bat-eared foxes, civets and even wild dogs (though these and hyenas are not often seen), as well as impalas, gazelles, kudu, plus sable and roan in some areas. Elephants are probably the key species here, and very importantly, are responsible for digging waterholes in the sandy riverbed when the Ruaha dries up; this is the difference between life and death for many species.
- Walking safaris: These are available at certain camps that have excellent guides trained in walking safaris, but some camps do not permit walking due to the high concentrations of elephants and lions in their areas.
- Fly camping: This is great for adventure seekers and can be done at Jongomero Camp. Spend the day on a walking safari and spend the night camped out under the stars.
- Hot air balloon safaris: Splash out on a balloon safari, an experience you’ll never forget, followed by a glass of bubbly with your breakfast in the bush.
- Exclusivity: This vast park has only a few camps, so you won’t be sharing your amazing wildlife sightings with many others. This is untouched Africa, there aren’t many places where you can still get this type of experience.
- Safari combination: Ruaha is often combined with Selous (Nyerere National Park), and with a stay by the Indian Ocean too. But consider combining it with the even more unusual Katavi further west, or possibly with seeing the chimps in Gombe or Mahale. Links to northern Tanzania (Serengeti, for example) are also available.