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Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania and East Africa, covering tens of thousands of square kilometres. However, the park only receives around 5% of the volume of tourists that the more well-known Serengeti receives (mostly due to its remote location), so you may well have this vast wilderness and its four-legged residents to yourself.
Ruaha National Park has a diverse and highly concentrated amount of wildlife inhabiting the undulating peaks and valleys. In places such as the areas around Ikuka Safari Camp, wildlife sightings of elephants, lions and other wildlife are almost guaranteed.
On a typical game drive around the park, you’re likely to meet ostriches, Grant’s gazelles, buffaloes, roan and sable antelope, wild dogs, greater and lesser kudus, cheetahs and a huge variety of bird species. At dusk, there are bat-eared foxes and jackals to look out for too.
Ruaha is home to Tanzania’s largest elephant population, with numbers around 12,000. There are also large prides of lions known for taking on large mammals, such as elephants, giraffes, hippos and buffalo.
Ruaha is also known for its dramatic landscapes, with peaks in the south and west towering up to 1,900 metres, rocky outcrops and savannah flats with surreal-shaped baobab trees; all of which make for stunning scenes at sunrise and sunset.
The Great Ruaha River is one of the main water sources in the park and therefore a hub of activity. Here, you’ll come across swimming hippos, wading birds and lurking crocodiles. There are also smaller ‘sand rivers’ which wind and connect around the park, sustaining animals in the wet season and acting as pathways to the shrinking waterholes in the dry season.
With far fewer visitors than Tanzania’s northern parks, a trip to Ruaha National Park is perfect for those looking to get off the beaten path. Large expanses of the park lie unexplored, providing a quiet and peaceful setting for the most authentic wildlife encounters you can expect to experience in Tanzania.
A visit to Tanzania’s national parks is great at any time of year, as each season brings something different to your safari experience. Although many of the camps in Ruaha during the height of the rainy season in April and May. The rainy season is less busy, whereas the dry season is technically peak season, but with so few visitors coming to Ruaha, this is unlikely to impact your trip.
The wet season paints Ruaha’s epic landscapes green with vegetation, bird migrate south from Europe for the winter and spring’s calves can be seen scampering around with their families. The dry season sees the foliage withdraw, making trails easier to navigate and wildlife easier to spot, as animals converge at the remaining water sources.
We feature three nights at Ruaha National Park on our Remote Tanzania: Safari & Beach itinerary and four nights in our Tanzania Family Safari, with two shared game drives a day providing ample opportunity for exploration and wildlife encounters. If you’d like to spend more time here or add time in Ruaha Park to your tailor made safari holiday, let us know and we can arrange this for you.
We know all the camps in Ruaha National Park very well and our travel itineraries feature a couple of our favourites. Mdonya Old River Camp is a small Meru-style tented camp located in the west of the park, near to the beautiful Mdonya Falls (look out for the camp’s resident leopard!). Ikuka Safari Camp, sits atop an escarpment giving the lodge incredible views, the luxury tents are on raised wooden decks with bar and restaurant facilities, and an outdoor pool.