Ruaha National Park is one of Tanzania’s most popular national parks. A visit to this pristine protected gets you a great opportunity to explore its diverse wildlife species while on game drive/game viewing given its exceptional landscape. It boasts of its distinct floral and faunal species including the Greater Kudu that you may not find anywhere of the national parks. Besides, its ecosystem is still untapped thus making an ideal place for you to get the best of unique wilderness experiences.
Ruaha National Park was first gazetted as Saba Game Reserve in 1910 by Germany and later its name was changed by the British to Rungwa Game Reserve in 1946. Around 1964, the southern side of this nature reserve was established as Ruaha National Park and in 1974, a small portion of it especially the southeastern side of the Great Ruaha River was confined to make up national park. This protected area derives its name from the word Ruvaha that denotes river. Ruaha National Park makes up part of Rungwa Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem that spans to cover about 45000 square kilometers. In 2008, Usangu game reserve and other significant wetland areas within Usangu basin were annexed to make up Ruaha National Park thus making it the most expansive national park in Tanzania and East Africa at large.
Attractions in Ruaha National Park
This park boasts of its biodiversity. It features wildlife species like antelopes, elephants, buffaloes, wild dogs, hippos, cheetahs, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, giraffes, buffaloes, a mention but a few. The reptiles and amphibians to identify in this pristine national park include crocodiles, agama lizards, frogs, snakes, monitor lizards and others.
There are over 571 bird species for you to identify in this park including several hornbills and migratory birds from Europe, Australian rim, Madagascar, Asia and others. The birds to look out include the Ruaha red billed hornbills, the dominant bird in this park. Its vegetation is mainly semi-arid and also features baobab trees, acacia and many other species. Over 1650 floral species are confined within this park and it is a transitional point of 2 distinct vegetation zones-the Zambezian and Sudanian vegetation. This park also boasts of its unique historical and cultural sites which are worth exploring in Tanzania. Remarkably, the routes used by the early Arab caravans pass through this park. in 1830s, the coastal traders expanded their routes northwards and around 1857-1858 more European explorers for instance Burton and Speke used the same routes. Equally, Chief Mkwawa also used the same routes to pay a visit to his chiefdoms in Sangu and Gogo. Many times, this park hailed as the land of the brave chief Mkwawa the chief of Hehe people who resisted against the German attack in the late 19th century. The fierce and successful battle tactics against the German invasion made the Hehe tribe popular in the southern highland of then Tanganyika which is now Tanzania. This tribe belonged to chief Mkwawa and dominated mainly the Ruaha area. There are also cultural sites that were used for ritual performances and they include Ganga la Mafunyo, Chahe, Nyangwa, painting rock at Nyanywa, the Gogo chief of Mapenza grave at Mpululu and Mkwawa spring area which is believed to have been used by chief Mkwawa. There are also other remarkable sites for instances the Isimila pillars around Iringa town, Lugalo, Mlambalasi and God’s bridge and many others. Other physical features which make up this park include hot water springs, Kopjes, river systems, great rift valleys, wetlands, hills and mountains.
What to do in Ruaha National Park
The key safari activities for you to do while on safari in Ruaha National Park include game viewing, wilderness walking tours, birding, picnicking and many others.
Where to sleep at Ruaha National Park
There are many accommodation options for your overnight stay while on Tanzania safari in this park. They include Ruaha River Lodge, several seasonal and permanent tented camps and others.
How to get to Ruaha National Park
You can get to this park by road or by air. By road, you can embark on 130 kilometers drive from Iringa Town and 625 kilometers from Dar-es-salaam. By air, you can take a flight from Arusha, Kigoma, Dar-es-salaam or Dodoma. The airstrips at Ruaha National park are situated at Jongomero and Msembe.