Ruaha is Tanzania’s largest national park and a hidden gem. While its wildlife density is lower than that of the Serengeti, high predator concentrations; low volume of visitors; harsh, ever-changing terrain; and absolute remoteness make it one of our favorite parks in Africa.
Ruaha is commonly considered a destination for seasoned safari enthusiasts, but this magical park is a perfect choice for first-time safari goers looking for a destination and adventure off of a road less traveled. Its unique southerly location in Tanzania occurs at the convergence of the East African and Southern African biomes. This convergence accounts for the park’s amazing biodiversity. Numerous species of mammals and more than 571 recorded bird species make their home in Ruaha.
Most camps in Ruaha are located in the eastern side of the park where wildlife densities are highest. Here, the Great Ruaha River gives life to a rugged landscape. A drive through Ruaha can take you through an ancient baobab tree forest, wide-open plains, along the banks of the wide-open Ruaha River, and along towering rocky ledges. The beauty of its untamed wilderness pulls you in like a magnet.
Beginning in June, Ruaha enters its dry season. The climate is mild and pleasant with exceptional wildlife viewing and clear blue skies. In October, heat and humidity begin to build as the thirsty landscape awaits November’s rains. The start of the rainy season brings scattered showers and fresh grass. Light rains continue through the start of each new year, becoming heavier from March until May. Some camps in Ruaha close during the heavy rains when logistics become more difficult. Abundant food and water resources mark their reopening in May, and animals are dispersed throughout the park taking advantage of this time of plenty. For nature lovers interested in spectacular scenery and a prolific birding destination, visiting Ruaha during the green season is a must.
Ruaha’s wildlife, while less dense than the Serengeti, is fantastically diverse. This wild environment is home to the largest elephant population of any East African National Park, as well as the world’s second largest lion population and third largest population of wild dogs. Large prides of lions thrive, cheetahs hunt in the vast open plains, hyenas roam, and elusive leopards seek refuge from competitors atop trees and large boulders in this wild park.
Birding in Ruaha is especially spectacular. An astounding 571 different species have been recorded in the park! The arrival of migratory birds during the green season makes this time of year a dream for birders.