About Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is located in the southern part of Tanzania, covering an area of about 20,226 square kilometers (7,809 square miles). Established in 1964, it is one of the largest national parks in Africa and forms part of the larger Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem. The park is named after the Great Ruaha River, which flows through its eastern boundary, providing a vital water source for wildlife.
Location: Ruaha National Park is situated in the heart of Tanzania, in the southern circuit of the country. It is located in the Iringa and Mbeya regions and borders the Rungwa and Usangu Game Reserves. The park is relatively remote and offers a more secluded and off-the-beaten-path safari experience compared to other popular Tanzanian parks like Serengeti and Ngorongoro.
Landscape: The landscape of Ruaha National Park is incredibly diverse, characterized by rolling hills, rocky escarpments, open plains, and riverine ecosystems. The Great Rift Valley also passes through the park, adding to its geological significance. The park's terrain features miombo woodlands, river valleys, acacia savannahs, and rugged granite outcrops, creating a picturesque and varied setting for wildlife viewing.
Wildlife: Ruaha National Park is renowned for its abundant wildlife, including a large population of elephants, estimated to be over 10,000 individuals. The park is also home to a rich variety of other animal species, such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, and numerous antelope species. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the park's impressive birdlife, with over 570 species recorded.
Visitor Activities: Visitors to Ruaha National Park can engage in a range of activities to explore and appreciate its natural wonders. Game drives are the most popular activity, offering opportunities to spot diverse wildlife across the park's varied landscapes. Guided walking safaris are also available, allowing visitors to experience a more intimate encounter with nature and learn about the smaller flora and fauna.
Other activities include birdwatching, where enthusiasts can marvel at the incredible bird species that inhabit the park, and boat safaris along the Great Ruaha River, providing a unique perspective on the wildlife and offering sightings of animals like hippos and crocodiles. Cultural visits to nearby local communities can also be arranged to learn about the traditions and way of life of the local tribes.
Accessibility: Reaching Ruaha National Park requires some planning due to its remote location. The nearest major town with an airport is Iringa, approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the north. From Iringa, it takes around 4-5 hours by road to reach the park's main entrance gate.
Several domestic airlines offer scheduled flights from Dar es Salaam and other major Tanzanian cities to an airstrip within the park, making air travel another convenient option. However, it's important to check for the availability of flights and make arrangements in advance.
Within the park, game drives and other activities are typically conducted with the assistance of experienced safari guides or tour operators who offer organized safaris and accommodations, including lodges and tented camps.