Ruaha National Park

If you want a superb wildlife experience in beautiful scenery and with few people, Ruaha in southern Tanzania has got to be near the top of your list.

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha is an enormous national park, the largest in Tanzania, at over 2,020,000 hectares, in the heart of the country. It is defined by varied scenery including open plains, hills, baobabs and the mighty Ruaha River, diverse wildlife and remote location. Getting here requires more of an effort (it takes about 2 hours to fly here from Dar) than the better known northern parks, but those that do visit are rewarded with an untamed wilderness free from crowds and rich in wildlife. Many come back again and again. Ruaha combines well with Selous, a short flight away.

Things to do in Ruaha National Park

  • Game drive – This is the core of your Ruaha safari. With a rugged 4x4 vehicle at your disposal you can cover great distances to witness the different habitats and discover the diverse game and predators. 4 of the Big 5 are found here (there are no longer any rhinos) as well as many species of antelope, zebra, giraffe, cheetah, hyena and wild dog (but no wildebeest). Game drives are sure to be exciting!
  • Put your best foot forward – Many of the camps in Ruaha offer walking safaris (though not all of them). It’s a superb way to experience this stunning wilderness area. Heighten your senses as you accompany your expert guide on foot.
  • Flycamping – If sleeping out under the stars is something you would like to experience, Jongomero offers fly camping during the dry season. You are drive half way to the camp and then leave the vehicle to continue with your guide on foot for about 6km.  An advance party will have set up the camp for you.  The following morning starts early as you walk the full 12km back to camp along the river appreciating all the smaller things you see on the way.
  • Bird watching – Birding in Ruaha is particularly rewarding with about 575 species recorded, migratory birds are present from November to April. Some of Tanzania’s endemics are found here such as the ashy starling and Ruaha hornbill.
  • Photography – With dramatic, varied scenery and an abundance of wildlife, you will most probably leave with thousands of images that you will need to process. You can relive your Ruaha experience from the comfort of your own living room.

When to visit Ruaha National Park

The best months for wildlife viewing are May to early/mid-November – the dry season – though May can get a little rain, and there are not as many flights coming here in May due to it still being a wet month in Selous which is often connected with Ruaha on safaris. (We actually still think May’s a gorgeous, lush month to come if you don’t mind the chance of a little bit of rain). There is less vegetation in the dry season, especially by July onwards at which time animals also start to congregate at water sources.

The green season is from about late November to April, though during this time some months tend to be worse than others – March often being one of them (though it still tends to be drier than Selous). November is usually one of the driest, hottest months, but rains can start later in the month.

 Excellent   Good   Fair   Poor 
 

JAN NN
FEB NN
MAR N
APR K
MAY N
JUN NNN
JUL NNN
AUG NNN
SEP NNN
OCT NNN
NOV NN
DEC NN

 

MAY TO EARLY NOVEMBER (Dry Season)

  • Whilst May can be a bit wet sometimes, we still think it’s a lush month to come (though grasses are still quite high).
  • Wildlife viewing is at its very best from about July to November
  • Animals will gather at water sources as the land dries out, and elephants dig in the sand river beds.
  • Vegetation is more sparse, especially from July, making wildlife easier to spot
  • There are fewer mosquitos at this time of year
  • There is hardly any rain to spoil your experience
  • Ruaha River Lodge stays open all year if you do want to stay in April or May.
  • Early mornings and evenings can be surprisingly cold
  • The landscape is dry and dusty
  • It’s the busier season as regards visitors
  • Early to mid-November can be very hot and dry (until the rains come)

 

LATE NOVEMBER TO APRIL (Green Season)

  • Vegetation is lush and green, perfect for photography
  • This is the quiet time, with fewer tourists
  • Some camps offer special rates
  • Birding is excellent at this time of year
  • Wildlife viewing is not as easy as in the dry season (tall grass, plentiful water …)
  • Ruaha River Lodge stays open all year if you do want to stay in April or May.
  • Some of the roads will be muddy, making travel more tricky
  • It’s a hot and humid time to travel
  • There are very few flights to Ruaha during April and May (and they may cost more than at other times).
  • It’s possible to travel here by road, but it’s a difficult journey, especially if it is wet.
  • March/April are two of the wettest months (though generally still drier than Selous).
  • Most accommodations close in April and May (some from mid-March).

Where to stay in Ruaha National Park

As you might imagine with its remote location, there are a handful of camps in Ruaha. They tend to be a little more rustic than in other areas, but the service and guiding is still excellent, focus here is on the wildlife and the safari experience rather than the thread-count on your sheets.