Destinations | Ruaha National Park

This is one of Tanzania's least accessible parks and as such it is totally untouched and remains one of Tanzania's most exciting game reserves. It is nearly as large as the Serengeti, Its lifeblood is the Great Ruaha River, which courses along the eastern boundary in a flooded torrent during the height of the rains, but dwindling thereafter to a scattering of precious pools surrounded by a blinding sweep of sand and rock.

The game viewing starts the moment the plane touches down. A Giraffe races beside the airstrip, all legs and neck, yet oddly elegant in its awkwardness. Beneath a bulbous Baobab tree, a few representatives of Ruaha's 10,000 Elephant, form a protective huddle around their young.

A fine network of game-viewing roads follows the Great Ruaha and its seasonal tributaries, where, during the dry season, Impala, Waterbuck and other antelopes risk their life for a sip of life-sustaining water. And the risk is considerable: not only from the prides of 20-plus Lion that lord over the Savannah, but also from the Cheetah that stalk the open grassland and the Leopard that lurk in tangled riverrine thickets. This impressive array of large predators is boosted by both, Striped and Spotted Hyena, as well as several conspicuous packs of the highly endangered African Wild Dog.

Grant's Gazelle and Lesser Kudu occur here at the very south of their range, alongside the miombo-associated Sable and Roan Antelope, and one of East Africa's largest populations of Greater Kudu, the park emblem, distinguished by the males magnificent corkscrew horns.

A similar duality is note in the checklist of 450 birds: the likes of Crested Barbet, an attractive yellow-and-black bird whose persistent trilling is a characteristic sound of the southern bush, occur in Ruaha alongside central Tanzanian endemics such as the Yellow-collared Lovebird and Ashy Starling.

About Ruaha National Park:
Size: 10,300 sq km, Tanzania's 2nd biggest park.
Location: Central Tanzania, 128km west of Iringa.

Getting there:
Scheduled and/or charter flights from Dar es Salaam, Selous, Serengeti, Arusha, Iringa and Mbeya. Year-round road access through Iringa from Dar es Salaam (about 10 hours) via Mikumi or from Arusha via Dodoma.

What to do:
Game drives. Daywalks or hiking-safaris through untouched bush. Stone aged ruins at Isimila, near Iringa, 120 km away, one of Africa's most important historical sites.

Best time:
For predators and large mammals, dry season (mid-May-December); birdwatching, lush scenery and wildflowers, wet season (January-April). The male greater kudu is most visible in June, the breeding season.

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