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Ruaha National Park

The scenic  wildlife sanctuary lies in the western rift valley and offers spectacualr views of the African wilderness. With over 10% of Africa’s lions, the park offers exclusive wildlife encounters.

Tanzania Safaris

Exclusive wildcat encounters

Ruaha National Park is a national park in central and southern Tanzania, located 130 kilometers west of Iringa. Spanning 20,226 sq. km (7,809 sq mi), Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania and one of the largest in Africa. Ruaha National Park is part of the larger Rungwa-Kizigo Mugesi eco-system which covers over 45,000 sq. km (17,000 sq. mi). Other protected areas encompassed in the ecosystem include Rungwa Game reserve, Mbomipa Wildlife Management Area, Kizigo, and Muhesi game reserves. 

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4 Days Ruaha Safari

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Ruaha National Park derives its name from the Ruaha River which flows along the south-eastern edge of the park and supports its incredible population of wildlife. The park was established in 1964, following the Rungwa Game reserve. Rungwa had originally been established as Saba Game reserve by the German colonial government in 1964; until it was renamed – Rungwa by the British colonial government. Later in 1964, the southern part of the reserve was gazetted into a national park, forming Ruaha National Park. Ruaha National Park is quite remote and receives fewer tourists compared to other national parks in Tanzania’s southern safari circuit; the park offers fascinating wilderness experiences.

Ruaha is remarkably diverse with hills and rocky escarpments, riverine vegetation, and vast savannah dotted with baobabs. The park provides a natural habitat to a plethora of wildlife species including 10% of the world’s population of lions and one the largest cheetah populations in East Africa. The park also boasts great numbers of leopards and wild dogs, making it a great Tanzania wildlife viewing destination for predator sightings.  

How to Get to Ruaha National Park 

Tanzania safaris to Ruaha often begin in Dar-es-Salaam, and the country’s main entry is through Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR). Ruaha National Park can be accessed both by road and by air. The travel from Dar-es-Salaam to Ruaha takes around 10 hours, with much of it on a sandy, uneven road. Many visitors to Ruaha, however, like to stop at Mikumi National Park. Mikumi National Park is approximately 320km/200 mi and takes around 5 hours by road. 

Nevertheless, the most convenient way to arrive in Ruaha is via chartered or scheduled aircraft from Dar-es-Salaam to any one of the park’s two airstrips, one in Msembe and one in Jongomero. When you arrive at the airstrip, a representative from your resort or camp will transfer you to your camp in a 4×4 safari vehicle.

top attractions in Rauha national park

10 Reasons to Go for An African safari


Ruaha National Park is well-known for its huge predator sightings. The park is home to a stunning 10% of Africa’s lions, including big prides of 20 or more individuals, according to research. This area is also home to one of only four East African cheetah populations, with over 200 individuals, and the world’s third-largest population of endangered African wild dogs. Ruaha is also a great place to see leopards and spotted hyenas, while jackals and bat-eared foxes are pretty abundant. Antelope species such as waterbucks, bushbucks, roan antelopes, greater and lesser kudus, and sable antelopes can also be found in the park. Furthermore, around 10,000 elephants wander freely over the park’s enormous landscape, making it one of Tanzania’s greatest elephant herds. The Great Ruaha River is also an ideal home for aquatic species such as hippos and Nile crocodiles. 

With over 500 recorded bird species, Ruaha National Park is also one of Kenya’s Important Birding Areas. The park offers a plethora of bird species including a fascinating mix of birds from both Southern and East Africa. Endemics such as the yellow-collared lovebird, ashy starling, and Tanzanian red-billed hornbill can all be seen in Ruaha National Park. Raptors abound here, and vultures are a specialty: the park is home to six different vulture species, including the highly endangered hooded vulture, Ruppell’s vulture, white-backed vulture, and white-headed vulture. Other notable bird species in Ruaha National Park include falcons, storks, ducks, spur fowls, quails, cuckoos, bustards, nightjars, and lapwings to mention but a few.  

The Ruaha River

The Great Ruaha River is one of the park’s main tourist attractions and the most important river that runs along the park’s eastern edge. The Ruaha River is approximately 457 kilometers long, with a catchment area of 68,000 square kilometers in its tributary basin. The river runs through the Usangu marshes before joining the Rufiji River and is nourished by several rivers, including the Lukosi, Kitete, Little Ruaha, Yovi, Sanje, Kisigo, Mbarali, Kimani, and Chimala, among several others. 

Ruaha River is a fantastic site to visit while on Tanzania wildlife safaris for Tanzania wildlife viewing as well as Tanzania bird watching safaris. The flora around the river banks is home to numerous water birds, and the river itself is often crowded by many animals in an attempt to quench their thirst, particularly during the dry season.

Hot Springs

The hot springs are another stunning sight to catch in Ruaha National Park. Located at the foot of the western rift valley escarpment, there are several hot springs in Ruaha National Park, but the most noteworthy are Majimoto, Mkwawa, Mwayembe, and Makinde. The Majimoto hot spring is the most intriguing, allowing guests the opportunity to contact natural hot water. The hot spring is located in the Jongomero region, about 20 kilometers from Jongomero tented camp. These hot springs are an excellent spot to visit while game viewing in Ruaha National Park, especially during the dry season when numerous animals congregate around them to drink water.

The Great Rift Valley 

Cutting through Ruaha National Park, the Great Rift Valley offers eye-catching scenery. The rift valley in the park consists of an escarpment wall roughly 50 – 100 meters high in the northeastern regions along the western valley side, and its height rises to the southwest. The Great Ruaha River valley in Ruaha National Park is considered an extension of the Great Rift Valley, flowing for roughly 160 kilometers along the whole eastern boundary via rocky gorges and broad plains.

Activities in Ruaha National Park

Game Viewing 

The game viewing in Ruaha National Park is unparalleled, with 80 animal species and 10% of the world’s lion population calling the plains home. Game viewing in Ruaha National Park is done on guided safari game drives, which are further conducted in the comfort of 4WD safari vehicles. Guided game drives and night drives are available in the park’s camps and lodges, and tourists are accompanied by an experienced ranger who knows which locations give the best sightings. Throughout the day, you may also take a self-guided tour of the park: this is an intriguing choice for travelers who want to explore on their own.


With over 500 recorded bird species, Ruaha is a birder’s paradise: the park is a haven for both permanent and migratory bird species. Most species in Ruaha National Park may be viewed all year since the annexed Usangu basin is a Birdlife International Important Birding Area. However, the rainy season is the optimum time to experience amazing birding encounters in this Park. Moreover, migratory birds are present in the par between November and April. 

 Birders on Tanzania birding safaris to Ruaha national park will enjoy encountering various species such as Eleanora’s falcon, emerald spotted wood dove, crested barbet, Goliath heron, African fish eagle, black-billed bustard, bateleurs, and ashy starling, among others. 

masai people in Tanzania - Laba Africa Expeditions photo

Cultural Encounters 

A cultural encounter in Ruaha National Park allows you to learn more about the indigenous people and their approach to life. The towns surrounding the park have been made accessible to visitors so that they may experience the traditional way of life and customs. Tanzania is rich in local history and culture, allowing tourists to experience the actual ethnicity of the people who live there. See their environment and way of life on a Tanzania safari to Ruaha, as well as interact with them. 

Walking safaris 

Walking safaris are very prevalent in Ruaha, whether booked via your resort or through the Tanzanian Parks department. Ruaha has a range of walking routes that allow visitors to experience its beauty on foot. These pathways wind around the park and they expose visitors to a variety of species; including birds, plants, and animals. Walking safaris in Ruaha National Park are offered as short and long walks and last between 2 to 4 hours, respectively. 

Best time to Visit Ruaha National Park

It is feasible to visit Ruaha National Pak at any time of year, but the dry season, from June to October, is the ideal time to visit the Ruaha National Park because animals from all across the park congregate at water sources, and the thinning shrubs give tourists with lots of possibilities to view them. However, visiting the park during the wet season from March to March is not recommended, as access roads to the park are muddy.  

As for bird viewing, the months of November to April are ideal, since they bring a large number of migrating species to the Ruaha National Park. 

Accommodation in Ruaha National Park

Accommodation in Ruaha National Park includes budget, midrange, and luxury tented camps and safari lodges; all offering exquisite safari stays to tourists on Tanzania wildlife safaris. Top accommodation facilities in Ruaha National Park include; 

Ruaha River Lodge

This luxurious resort on the banks of the Great Ruaha River offers ringside seats for animal viewing. The lodge has 24 stone cabins, each with comfy double beds, an en-suite bathroom, and a large balcony from which guests get to enjoy watching wildlife. The lodge has two dining areas: one at the river bank and another high above, where breakfast, lunch, supper, and beverages are served. Private dinners, bush meals, and sundowners are all offered at Ruaha River Lodge. 

Jabali Lodge

Jabali lodge is a fashionable camp located on a rocky ledge overlooking the Mwagusi River and the Ikuka escarpment in Ruaha National Park. The hotel has eight luxury en-suite tents, an infinity pool, and a spa. There are also other tented campers on the property. Breakfast, lunch, and a three-course supper are served in the camp’s mess tent. Guests at Jabali can enjoy Wi-Fi, bush meals, sundowners, etc. 

Mwagusi Safari Camp

This modest private tented camp is nestled on the bank of the Mwagusi River and overlooks the magnificent riverbed. This well-established camp, founded in 1987, is a manifestation of its owner Chris Fox’s undying love and enthusiasm for the Tanzanian wilderness, its animals, and its people. Mwagusi began as a temporary fly camp and has since into a beautifully built camp with a pleasant and serene ambiance. The camp features 13 bandas, each carefully considered and developed to be original and one-of-a-kind. 

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