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Ruaha National Park

TAN St Tanzania Ruaha National Park Baobab Leopard Shutterstock Andrew Hendren

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s largest national park and one of the most exciting dry season destinations. A wild and thrilling atmosphere emanating from its unrestricted wilderness, the great action and range of experiences along with the prolific game and predators here will ensure you of the most unique encounters in the natural world.

A vast tract of semi-arid bush, this rugged land is in the heart of Tanzania, taking fewer tourists than Selous, or any parks on the Northern Circuit. The park is 10,300 square kilometres and is part of a much larger series of conjoined wildlife areas, forming a massive 50,000 square kilometres overall. With just a small percentage of the park visited on the normal tourist trails, a good guide can mean the difference between a good safari and an unbeatable one, taking you into remote and unexplored areas. Being in a transition zone where the southern and eastern species of flora and fauna combine creates a huge variety of landscapes, plants and animals. Miombo woodlands, similar to those in Zambia, give way to open savannah, similar to that of Kenya, for which much of Tanzania is renowned.

Quick Facts:

  1. Did you know: Ruaha is the second largest national park in Tanzania.
  2. Wildlife spotting opportunities: great for impala, waterbuck, wild dog, lion and leopard.
  3. What's in the name: originates from the Hehe word 'Ruvaha' which means river.
  4. Did you know: approximately 10,000 elephants reside here.

Wildlife in Ruaha

Ruaha is bordered by its lifeblood, the great Ruaha River which floods with heavy torrents of water in the rains, but nearly dries up, leaving essential pools of water in the dry seasons. The river is a magnet for big predators and makes a great hunting ground. There are fantastic predators here, with lions on the shores of the river, cheetah on the open plains and leopard, although as elusive as ever, in quite substantial numbers. Lions can be found in large prides of up to twenty individuals along with smaller cat species including serval, caracal, civet, genet and banded wildcat. This is also an important area for wild dog; however, sightings of hyena and jackal are more common as predators.

Other African mammals thrive in abundance in the park. Here you will find the largest population of elephant in Tanzania, found throughout the park, as well as buffalo. Due to the mix of species from the east and the south, Grant’s gazelle and greater and lesser kudu can be found in the same areas as eastern species, such as zebra, giraffe, impala and defassa waterbuck.

The birding here is prolific, with over 500 species counted, with an abundance of raptors, vultures and hornbills and lots of water birds. March is a good time for this as the migrants come to the river, especially the sooty falcon from the Sahara Desert and rare Eleanor’s falcon from the Mediterranean.

What to do

Activities here include walking safaris, game drives and bird watching to rival Selous – just with no boat safaris. Game drives in the park are best done early in the morning when wildlife is most active and in the late afternoon when temperatures cool. Night game drives are very popular within Ruaha and provide an unmissable opportunity to witness the extraordinary nocturnal wildlife of the park including bushbabies, bat-eared fox, spotted hyenas, lions, leopards, and more! There is nothing more exciting than listening to the chilling calls of a pack of hyenas underneath the glistening stars above the open plains.

Guided nature walks are an amazing activity to experience the park on foot in the company of guides and armed park rangers. Here you can get up-close-and-personal to wildlife in their habitat for some incredible wildlife encounters.


Accommodation includes the beautifully peaceful and wild Jongomero Camp, with just 8 tented suites. There are few lodges here, each with its own unique selling points, so get in touch to find out more information on the options available.

Contact us for a bespoke quote.