Tailored from £5,000 per person excl. flights
8 days Ruaha NP
8 days Ruaha NP
This is a unique experience that takes you away from the crowds and deep into the heart of untouched wilderness, where active conservation efforts are underway to further protect and study this area. And you can get to be a part of this ongoing story! This two-centre itinerary focuses on Ruaha National Park – one of the largest in Africa giving you plenty to explore!
You start by heading to the intrepid wetlands of Usangu, this little explored area offers you the once in a lifetime experience of being hands-on and a part of this research and conservation. Stay at Usangu Expeditions Camp which neighbours the Douglas Bell Eco Research Station; your first-hand information source regarding on-going conservation. With no other camps for miles this is an adventurer’s dream, you will head out exploring on night drives, walking safaris and boat rides to truly immerse yourself in this rich wilderness. You'll also have the opportunity to participate in conservation research projects including setting up camera traps, tracking collared lions and image analysis for predator identification.
Your next stop is up in the heart of Ruaha’s wildlife area. Stay at the luxury accommodation of Ikuka Safari Camp, set high on the Mwagusi escarpment you have sweeping views across the valleys. Here, you will take the opportunity to get involved with Southern Tanzania Elephant Programme (STEP) to continue learning and researching whilst you are on safari.
Wayfairer tip: As an optional extra think about booking a night in the secret new sleepout, The Rock House, for some additional adventure under the stars!
This incredible adventure gives you an insight into conservation and research efforts and allows you to contribute to restoring and protecting this pristine wilderness for future generations.
With adventure and luxury all combined in one, this is the ideal trip for those looking to make a difference to the rare and endangered species found here.
On arrival in Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam, you’ll be met by a Wayfairer representative who will escort you to your transfer vehicle which takes you to the domestic terminal to catch your light aircraft flight down to Ruaha National Park.
Your first stop is right down south, you land at Jongomero airstrip where your private guide will be waiting to start your safari right away. It’s about a two-hour safari drive to Usangu Expeditions Camp which will be your base for the next three nights.
Situated in a shady spot on the outskirts of Usangu Wetlands this boutique camp consists of just four rooms with a maximum of just eight guests ensuring a personalised experience every time. Each tent is situated on a raised wooden platform with en-suite flush toilets and safari showers.
Usangu Expedition Camp is situated right next to the Douglas Bell Eco Research Station, where all conservation research for the region is coordinated. You can visit the centre at your leisure over the next couple of days to immerse yourself in its conservation efforts. You also have the opportunity to get involved in some of their ongoing projects during your stay, these will vary depending on the research going on at the time. Some examples are; setting up night camera traps, image analysis for predator identification, tracking collared lions.
You have two full days out with Usangu Expedition Camp. From your first day you will begin to get involved with research by being given your own camera trap and shown how to use it before setting it up somewhere round camp. You will check it at the end of your stay.
You have your own private guide throughout your stay here so you can be flexible with your schedule; as well as day game drives you can also head out on walking safaris, boat rides or night game drives.
For your stay you will also receive an introduction to the INaturalist app which your guide will show you how to use for the best data collection whilst you head out on your activities. At the end of your stay the researchers based at the Douglas Bell Eco Research Station will show you how they will use this data you have collected to further their studies and analysis of the area. They will also give you your own personal login for the Usangu Predator Hub – so when you collect your camera trap that you placed on the first day, if you were lucky enough to catch any predators you will upload this data and check with the researcher if these are known predators or if you’ve discovered a new face!
Wayfairer top tip: there is also the possibility at spending one night out in the Star Cubes – for amazing views of the night sky and the experience of feeling connected with the nature around you.
Today your time at Usangu comes to an end. You’ve spent an incredible few days researching this new area. Now it’s time to head a little further north to see what more animals may await.
You depart early with a packed breakfast and begin your safari transfer to your final destination. You will drive to Msembe airstrip where your guide from Ikuka will meet you and drive the last short distance to your next base.
This will be Ikuka Safari Camp, a lovely boutique owner run property set high on the Mwagusi escarpment, offering fantastic views to capture your imagination from the second you touch down. You will spend four nights in a luxury tented chalet. This is a stylish property, using natural materials and neutral colours to blend in to the environment and offers a warm atmosphere.
This is a brilliant, social property where you can enjoy the privacy of your chalet or enjoy pre-dinner drinks at the bar to swap travel stories. A short drive away will bring you to the heart of the wildlife viewing of Ruaha where you may be the only car around as you track elephants or spot leopards lazing in the trees.
Your final three full days exploring can be taken much at your own pace. This area of Ruaha is fantastic for wildlife viewing and is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, including some of the largest populations of elephant and lion left anywhere in Africa. Try spot the rare sable or roan antelope and if you’re lucky catch the groups of wild dogs as they run the plains.
It's also a birder’s paradise, with more than 500 species of birds identified. Representing a biodiversity transition zone between southern and eastern Africa, many species overlap and the crossover results in a unique wildlife display.
Whilst staying here your conservation journey is not over, Ikuka has a resident researcher from STEP (Southern Tanzania Elephant Project) based at the lodge. They will be on hand for interesting lectures or just a drink in the evening to catch up on the latest research in the area.
On one of your safari days, you can head out with your Ikuka guide, following a STEP researcher as they monitor elephant behaviour. Try to snap some clear photos as, once you're back at the lodge, you can help to ID the individuals you have seen and record the locations and family groups, contributing towards a better understanding of the elephant populations, how to protect them and better mitigate human-elephant conflict. This is vitally important for the future conservation of these incredible animals.
There is also the opportunity here for you to continue your predator tagging, in this part of the park the Ruaha Carnivore Programme will collect up any great predator photos and their locations that you take them to add to their database for further research and study. Ruaha National Park holds 10% of all Africa’s lions!
Your adventure is coming to an end. You have spent the last week not only exploring one of Africa’s great wildernesses but actively participating in the conservation efforts to preserve this amazing landscape and all its biodiversity.
Enjoy your final game drive to the airstrip where you catch your light aircraft back to Dar es Salaam. Here you will be assisted to your onward international flight or your next destination. If you have the time and interest, you might like to consider adding on some final beach time, in somewhere like Mafia Island and learn about the marine conservation efforts going on here. Ask your specialist for more information on this.
Although your intrepid conservation adventure story has come to an end, we hope you’ll be leaving with many special memories and stories to tell. After eight days of amazing wildlife, spectacular natural wonders, and a taste of the efforts behind conservation in Africa, we’re sure you’ll be hooked on Tanzania and the African continent. Where will you explore next?