Ruaha National Park Parks and Reserves
In the heart of Tanzania, where the Zambezi miombo woodlands meet the Tanzanian/Kenyan savannahs, lies Ruaha National Park. This vast park, with its few camps, offers visitors an uncrowded glimpse into untouched Africa, with a huge diversity of game, birds and landscapes. It’s an area known for its incredible animal sightings, including large herds of elephant and plenty of predators.
* Ruaha National Park Highlights
- ∞Vast area with few camps, meaning an uncrowded safari experience
- ∞Interesting mix of habitats and wildlife species
- ∞An elephant population numbering over 10,000
- ∞Good predator viewing, including large prides of lion
- ∞One of the few places where you can see greater and lesser kudu together
- ∞Incredible birdwatching, with over 500 species
- ∞A number of natural springs in the park create water sources (especially in the dry season) where game gather
Situated right in the centre of Tanzania, Ruaha National Park covers over 20 000 km² of land. It is a fascinating, game-rich park which includes the Zambian miombo woodlands and the Tanzanian and Kenyan savannahs. This diversity of habitats plays host to an equally diverse range of animals.
Due to its vast size, and the fact that there are not many camps in the park, Ruaha is known as one of Tanzania’s best-kept secret safari spots, promising unhurried, uncrowded game viewing.
The park was established in 1910 by the Germans and initially called Saba Game Reserve. In the late 1940s, the British took over, renaming it Rungwa Game Reserve. In 1964, it was finally named Ruaha National Park, after the Ruaha River, and gazetted. Ruvaha, in the local Hehe language, means ‘river’. The Usangu Wildlife Management Area was included as part of the park in 2008.
Ruaha is known for its huge elephant population (estimated at over 10,000) and healthy populations of predators. Especially notable, are the large prides of lion (up to 20 together), leopard and cheetah.
With over 500 species of bird (both seasonal and permanent), Ruaha is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Again, the variety of birds is spectacular – including water birds and raptors – from both the south and north.
Things to See and Do in Ruaha
- Game drives to spot the diverse game, including the Big Five
- Birdwatching, especially during the wet season (European winter, when the migratory birds are here)
- Some camps offer walking safaris to get as close to nature as possible
- Bush breakfasts or sundowners
- Fly camping: real, wild, African bush camping
- Visits to the numerous historical and cultural sites in and around Ruaha
- Marvel at the Great Rift Valley, which traverses the park
Best Time to Visit
Ruaha National Park is a typical dry-season park, with the best time to see larger mammals and predators being between mid-May and December. As water becomes scarce toward the end of the dry season, game gather around available water sources, offering unbeatable game-viewing opportunities.
During the wet season – January to April – the bush becomes lush and green and many migratory birds arrive from the northern climes, making it an idyllic bird watching paradise.
By car: Ruaha is 625 km from Dar es Salaam, and 130 km from Iringa. Travel time depends on the traffic and state of the roads, but is around 9 hours from Dar.
By air: Daily scheduled flights fly into the park’s two airstrips (Msembe and Jongomero) from Arusha, Dodoma, Kigoma and Dar es Salaam. Chartered flights can also be booked.
Before you go to Ruaha National Park Things you should know before you go!
Malaria is a consideration in Ruaha National Park
Learn more about malaria areas and malaria prevention with our resource article.
Malaria Areas & Prevention