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Ruaha National Park

About Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park is vast, and was upgraded to a National Park in 1964 and was further enlarged in 2008 to its current size of 20,226 sq. km making it Tanzania’s second-largest National Park. This makes it about the size of New Jersey in the United States, or of the whole country of Wales in the UK!. In fact, Ruaha is part of a much larger ecosystem of about 45,000 sq. km. Nature reigns supreme across this enormous area.

Rivers, mountains, plains, rock kopjes, swamps, dense woodlands, open savannas spread out across an immense landscape that has barely been touched by man. Wooded hillsides, many with rounded granite outcrops and scatterings of huge baobabs, are dissected by sandy, rock-strewn seasonal rivers and streams running down to meet flood plains and seasonal swamps, many of which end up in the Great Ruaha River

Seasonal rivers are lined by scattered groves of palms, thorn trees, fig-trees, and sausage trees providing midday shade for all sorts of wild animals. They are key features to enjoy during game drives, especially during the dry season when only pools remain or the elephants have to dig in the sand for water. This is Africa of a bygone era – the world as it was before modern man.

The only perennial river is the Great Ruaha River, which flows along the southeast boundary, but even this becomes only a trickle in places at the end of the dry season in October. Ruaha’s dry season is between June and October and its wet season is November to May. Temperatures range between 16 – 27 °C.

Wildlife at Ruaha

Wildlife is especially varied because of the overlap of eastern and southern African wildlife zones, so besides regular big game such as elephant, buffalo, and plains animals, the more unusual species such as the antelopes sable, roan, greater and lesser kudu are quite common. A cape hunting dog is also often encountered. Ruaha is also a great place for the big cat’s lion, leopard, and cheetah.

Birdlife is also understandably rich. In fact outstandingly so with over 550 species having been recorded, and an enormous variety of birds of prey.

Perhaps the most abiding joy of Ruaha is the wild character of the land within which so many animals roam. It is a land of starry nights, cool mornings, and baking mid-day heat. A land of monumental storms in the rainy season, and desiccating winds in the dry. This is an Africa that sets it to mark on you and from which it is tough to turn away; and one that you never forget. This is why it is so worth the long journey to get here, be it by road or air

Things to do

  • Game viewing by vehicle.
  • Walking safaris accompanied by an armed guide approved by the Park authorities
  • Night game driving in approved locations.


The Park has public and special campsites for independent operators, as well as a hostel, self-catering bandas, and cottages. There are numerous lodges and permanent camps in the southern parts of the Park.

 Safari ideas

Ruaha lies almost directly on a route between Nyerere National Park and Katavi and Mahale Mountains National Parks. The endpoint would be Dar es Salaam. This safari would combine the chimps of Lake Tanganyika, the vast flood plains of Katavi, the big game wonders of Ruaha, ending with the lakes and rivers of Nyerere National Park.

A longer safari would start in Dar es Salaam and proceed via Nyerere, Ruaha, Katavi, and Mahale to Burigi Chato and then via boat to Rubondo Island in Lake Victoria and on the east to the Serengeti National Park, ending in Arusha. What an odyssey!

While visiting Ruaha National Park you may pass through the Isimila Stone Age and Mtwa Mkwawa Museum. The Isimila Stone Age lies about 20 km to the southwest, contains archeological artifacts, particularly stone tools, from human habitation about 70,000 years ago. Mtwa Mkwawa Museum located at Kalenga ward was established in 1954 after the return of the Mkwawa skull belonged to the Hehe ethnics group from Germany after restoration for 56 years.

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