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Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park | Best Wildlife Safari from Dodoma | Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit | Book Wildlife Safari Tours from Dodoma 

Located in central to southern Tanzania, Ruaha National Park is around 130km west of Iringa. Covering an area of 20,226km², Ruaha National Park is the largest protected area in Tanzania and East Africa.

The park derives its name from the Great Ruaha River which flows through the south-eastern section of the park and attracts a broad range of wildlife.

Ruaha is an integral part of the Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem. The ecosystem spans across an area of 45,000km², and it includes the Rungwa Game Reserve, the Kizigo and Muhesi Game Reserves, and the Mbomipa Wildlife Management Area.

The Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem fuses the best of Southern and East African nature.

In 1910, the German colonial regime created the Saba Game Reserve, and the British colonial authorities renamed it as the Rungwa Game Reserve in 1946. In 1964, the southern part of the reserve was elevated to national park status.

Ruaha has a stunning and diverse landscape with a vast savannah, a river which attracts a plethora of wildlife, and mountains in the south and west. Ruaha is home to rare species, including wild dogs, cheetahs, and leopards.


Wildlife in the Ruaha National Park

Ruaha has the largest concentration of elephants in East Africa with a population of around 10,000 of these gentle giants. Ruaha is also home to 10% of global lion populations.

You also have a chance of seeing leopards, cheetahs, zebras, elands, giraffes, impalas, bat-eared foxes, snakes, crocodiles, and jackals.

Ruaha’s unique position on the verge of Southern Africa means that it is home to species from Southern and Eastern Africa. The greater and lesser kudu can both be found at Ruaha. Whilst the greater kudu is traditionally found in Southern Africa, the lesser kudu is found in East Africa.

Ruaha is home to dozens of rare species, including the sable and roan antelopes.

Cheetahs and leopards are difficult to spot in most places, but they are often sighted as they pursue their prey in the open plains of Ruaha. The wild dog is endangered worldwide, but around 100 wild dogs live in the park.

Ruaha is a birdwatcher’s paradise and 571 bird species have been sighted at the park. Ruaha also has beautiful landscapes which are dotted with acacias, baobabs, and over 1,650 plant species.

Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit

Top Tanzania Destinations

Discovering Southern Circuit Safaris in Tanzania: Ruaha National Park and Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous). Tanzania has just about everything you could wish for in an African safari holiday. Safaribookings, the largest online safari marketplace for safari tours, has declared it Africa’s best safari destination following a thorough analysis of reviews from travellers and experts alike.

Most visitors travel to what is known as the Northern Circuit. This includes the dramatic Ngorongoro Crater, home to around 30,000 animals. Another popular destination is the vast Serengeti with its world-renowned Great Wildebeest Migration. Also high on the list are the exceptionally pretty Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks.

As wonderful as these popular places are, Tanzania has much more to offer than these well-known hotspots. If you want to escape the crowds, head to the country’s little-visited yet stunning and wildlife-rich Southern Circuit.

When to Visit Ruaha National Park

Like most other Tanzanian national parks, it is best to visit Ruaha during the long dry season from June to October. It is relatively cool during this period compared to the hot dry season from mid-December to mid-March.

The dry season also provides great conditions for wildlife viewing because animals are drawn to the dwindling water sources and the grass is too short for them to hide.

For bird enthusiasts, the European winter months (December to April) are the best time to visit as migratory birds make their way down to Tanzania. Some lodges close in the long-wet season (March-May), so you will need to be flexible when you are finding your accommodation.

Safari in the Ruaha

Morning game drives and walking safaris are the most popular activities at Ruaha. Night drives are not permitted.

Walking safaris with an experienced ranger allow you to get even closer to the wildlife. There’s nothing quite like getting within metres of a 6-tonne elephant. 

Safaris at Ruaha offer great wildlife photography opportunities. Visitor numbers in the park are much lower than in the Serengeti or Ngorongoro, which means you can feel like you have the park all to yourself. 

Hot air balloon trips are another great way to discover Ruaha National Park, and they offer a unique perspective of the wilderness. 

These trips are quite expensive (around US$550 per person), but soaring above the wild plains of East Africa is an experience few can put claim to, and is worth every penny. 

Morning game drives and walking safaris are the most popular activities at Ruaha. Night drives are not permitted.

Getting to the Ruaha National Park

airport, airstrip, transfer

Ruaha’s remote location means that it is difficult to access, but the long journey is rewarded ten times over by the secluded safari paradise that awaits. The Southern Safari Circuit is less popular, so flight connections are not as frequent.

You can reach Ruaha via plane or car, although we recommend the former for ease and comfort. If you do decide to drive, you’ll get a wonderful insight into rural Tanzanian life, and you can enjoy the changing landscapes that never fail to impress. If you decide to stop over in Morogoro or Iringa, you can even get a taste of traditional village life.

Ruaha is 625 km away from Dar es Salaam and the road journey takes around 9 hours. You can also drive from Iringa which is only 130 km away.

By plane, the journey is a lot shorter. There are frequent flights from Dar es Salaam, Arusha, the Serengeti, Kigoma, and Dodoma to the local airstrips, Msembe and Jongomero.

Coastal Aviation and Safari Airlink operate flights from Dar es Salaam. Private flights can be booked on request.

If you have booked your adventure with us, all transport will be arranged for you. 


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