Ruaha National Park is the second largest national park in Tanzania, after the Serengeti. It is a remote bastion of spectacular wilderness, undisturbed wildlife, and breath-taking scenery and also combines well with the Selous Game Reserve. A major attraction here is the fact that it is one of the least visited parks offering a personal and private safari experience.
Ruaha offers one of the largest populations of elephant in any African park, and the vast open areas are teeming with antelope and buffalo followed by the predators especially lion and potentially leopard, as well as African hunting dog and numerous giraffe and zebra.
Historically, Ruaha was not a sought after destination for tourists due to the arid environment and the tsetse fly population; however, nowadays, the tsetse flies are under control and wildlife abounds. The best part is that it is still an uncrowded and undiscovered reserve.
Ruaha National Park has an incredibly diverse landscape. One of the most outstanding geographical features is the Great Ruaha River, which is the life source for the wildlife in the park.
Ruaha National Park has a high diversity of plants and animals; including elephants, buffalos, antelopes and some of rare and endangered species like the African wild dog. There is a considerable population of crocodiles and other reptiles; such as snakes and monitor lizards.
Natural springs occur throughout the park, which act as dry season refuges for wildlife in search of water.
There are only a few safari lodges in Ruaha National Park, all of which offer drives, while some offer guided walks as well as fly camping, which are exciting activities appealing to the more adventurous guest.
Ruaha National Park is home to an enormous variety of animals, plants and birds with an estimated 20 000 elephants in the park. The birding is spectacular with a recorded 530 different species of birds, which is almost half of all bird species found in Tanzania.
The park has one of the biggest counts of large mammal species compared to any other park, as well as having the second largest population of wild dog in Africa. The park's wildlife includes elephant, huge herds of buffalo, giraffe, zebra, impala, eland, hippo, crocodile, lion and leopard. Sable antelope can sometimes be seen in the Miombo areas and in the springs in the Western part of the park. Roan antelope are also sometimes seen in the eastern area of the park.
In Ruaha, guests can enjoy superb walking safaris with an armed guides from one of the lodges and gain huge insight into the ecology of the area. Classic game drives take place on a daily basis and guests will find there are not many other visitors in the park at one time.
The main rainy season, or the 'long rains', lasts during March, April and May. Afternoon downpours are the norm, which are heavier and more predictable beside the coast and on the islands. The humidity is high and daily temperatures reach the low-mid 30s (degrees Celsius).
The long dry season lasts from June to October, during which time the rainfall is unusual. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it's usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather.
During November and December there's another rainy season, which is known as the 'short rains'. These are much lighter than the long rains and less reliable. If it has rained during the short rains, then it normally dries up for a few months in January and February, which is Tanzania's 'short dry season', before starting to rain again in earnest in March.
Jongomero Camp is positioned along the banks of the Jongomero River which flows strongly in the rains, but is usually just sand during the dry season, however, elephants frequently wander past in the dry riverbed. The 8 canvas tented rooms are raised up on wooden platforms, and have great views across the river.
Kigelia is a small, discreet camp secluded in a grove of Sausage trees. It operates in a socially and environmentally responsible way, placing a minimal footprint in these precious areas of natural beauty. The 6 luxury tents are spread out along the riverbank and constructed of the same cream canvas as the communal areas, which seem to disappear into the bush.
Mdonya River Camp is a traditional safari camp with basic facilities and the emphasis here is on offering the best in safari basics and a superb experience rather than the luxuries around it. Traditional tented accommodation; with no electricity add to the authenticity and true bush-feel of this camp and large verandas offer spectacular views.
Safaris in Tanzania begin at Arusha, which is situated close to the northern safari locations.
Sun Safaris will fly guests to Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is the primary receiving airport in Tanzania. This airport is only a few kilometres away from Arusha airport, which is the safari node of the country and where most light air transfers take off from.
Once guests have landed at Kilimanjaro, they will connect with a road transfer that will take them to Arusha airport. Depending on timing of guests' itinerary, they might spend a night in Arusha before heading off on a scheduled flight to an airstrip or airport nearer their safari destination.
Ruaha is located fairly centre of Tanzania, but falls into the southern safari circuit, alongside Selous and Mikumi Reserves. Guests would take a chartered flight from Arusha to a local airstrip at Ruaha, and then a road transfer to the lodge.