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Ruaha is Tanzania’s second largest national park, and one of its best kept secrets. Activities centre on the Great Ruaha River, which during the dry season gets very low, with the remaining rock pools swarming with huge crocodile and grunting hippo competing for space.

Bordered by the rapids of Great Ruaha and Mzombe, only the area around the Great Ruaha River has been developed and its remote location ensures relatively few visitors.

It occupies an important transition zone where eastern and southern species of flora and fauna overlap, and protects a wide variety of habitats. In all some 1,650 plant species and over 450 bird species have been recorded here. The amazing birdlife includes: glossy ibis and hadada, fish eagle, kingfisher, goliath, and night heron, stilts, storks, scops and pearl-spotted owls. The giant eagle owl is sighted regularly. The park’s varied habitats are home to nearly all species of African eagle including the martial, black, long-crested, snake and – of course – bateleur. Shrikes, weavers, blue waxbills, fire-finches, quelea and hornbills – including pale-billed and Van der Decken’s – are all found in the dry bushland.

In terms of mammals, Ruaha is known for its large elephant and Cape buffalo herds, greater and lesser kudu, sable and roan antelope. There are high numbers of predators including: lion, leopard, cheetah and the increasingly rare African wild dog. The park is a great place to visit all year round due to its excellent all-weather road network, and the fact that the park is particularly stunning in the green season with huge numbers of migrating birds from both hemispheres. The southwest of Tanzania where Ruaha is located has the lowest rainfall in the country. June to November is the driest time of year, when the focus is wildlife viewing around the rivercourses and permanent water holes. Ruaha’s rugged bush is the real Africa; teeming with game and empty of tourists.

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: Cape buffalo, African elephant, lesser kudu, wild dog, Grant’s gazelle
  • Where: Central Tanzania, Tanzania

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Best of the South

Rugged and remote parks crossed by wide rivers and inhabited by large numbers of predators, like lion, leopard and cheetah, Selous and Ruaha are two of Tanzania’s best kept secrets. This is Tanzania at its wildest and ideal for the discerning wildlife enthusiast seeking a pioneering Africa trip.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 9 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £4,495 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Mwagusi Safari Camp

Mwagusi is a small exclusive tented camp overlooking a well-frequented waterhole in the riverbed of the Mwagusi Sand River. Designed along the lines of an old-style African safari camp, the 14 tents are furnished in traditional style, and you can see fabulous wildlife from the seclusion of your own verandah.