The park is located 239km west of Iringa, Tanzania. The park was established in 1910 as a game reserve and upgraded as a National park in 1964. It’s the largest park in the country covering now 20,226sqkms after the addition of Usangu Game Reserve and other wetlands. The park is part of Rungwa – Kizigo- Muhesi ecosystem, which also includes Kizigo and Muhesi Game Reserves, Rungwa Game Reserve, and Mbomipa Wildlife Management center. The park also has the great Ruaha River which flows on the southern margin of the park, and where the name of the park derived from. The river and its surroundings are a focal point for game viewing in the park. The park has 1,600 plant species, monitor lizards, poisonous, 571 species of birds and 80 wildlife species with large numbers of elephants and 10% of world lion population.
How to access the park
The park can be accessed by both road and air transport
Road transport– You will use public or private means to get to the park, taking a dirt road from Iringa which is 130km to the park.
Air transport– The Park has two landing sites, that is; Msembe airstrip, in Msembe where the park headquarters are located. The other is Jongomeru airstrip at Jongomeru Ranger Post.
What to Carry
You will need to come along with the following items on a safari in this park; a guide book, a pair of binoculars, a very nice camera, hiking boots or shoes, insect repellent, mosquito net, drinking water, a rain jacket, warm clothing for the cold nights and mornings, a water proof backpack, snacks, hat, gloves, sun glasses, light clothing for the sunny days, sun screen, a notebook, among others. There some items you might fail to carry, most of them can be hired at places of residence.
Things to do in the park
If you a bird lover or just getting started, you will enjoy this activity. The park is a home for over 500 bird species and once you visit during the early stages of the wet season, you will have a blast for it’s the period when migratory birds visit the park. In a day if you concentrate you may see over 100 species with your binoculars. Look out for the likes of vultures, Eleanora’s falcon, black billed bustard, African fish eagle, emerald spotted wood dove, ashy starling, bateleurs, long crested eagle, crested barbet
The Park is endowed with wildlife and you will enjoy to see them in the comfort of a 4 wheel drive. These are normally arranged in the morning and afternoon. These will expose you to almost all wildlife in the park. The park also allows night game drives. Wildlife is amazing to see in the night. You may find predators on their meal. If you need a night game drive, you will need to inform the park’s headquarters so that they assign armed guides to you for protection. You will enjoy the likes of elephants, lions, giraffes, hyenas, among others at night.
You will enjoy this activity in the morning hours or after lunch. On this activity, you will be accompanied with a guide and he will lead you to places where you will enjoy your safari to the fullest.
Guided Nature Walks
The park is a wonderful place of adventure that you can’t miss an opportunity of exploring it on foot. The park has a number of trails created for this activity. It’s through this activity that you get to see the vegetation of the park closely. The various species of planted mentioned will be seen. The activity can take like 2 or 3 hours, but it all depends on how much time you have. Along these walks you will also get to see more wildlife and birds in the area. As you walk along, you will find great photo places that display true nature.
When to visit the Park
The park can be visited throughout the year, but the best time to visit the park is the dry season from June to October.
For the bird lovers, the best time to enjoy this activity is from November to April, when migratory birds visit the park.
Dry Season (June to October)
During this season, rains are rare and the sun dominates most of the days. The grasslands in the park are short and trees aren’t so thick. The period from June to August registers a lot of animals that can be seen along the game drives. Wildlife is easy to spot for the grass in the park is short.
The trails in the park are passable during this season, you can explore all ends of the park on foot.
Mosquitoes are rare since there’s hardly any rain, and thus visitors are at a low risk of getting malaria.
However, there is a lot of dust in the park.
It should be noted however that, weather can change any time. So visitors are advised to be equipped with rain coats.
Wet Season (November to May)
The season is composed of short, long and sometimes heavy rains. The best scenery in the park is during this time. The park is all green, with flowers. Wildlife can still be seen in the park.
The season registers the peak season of bird watching when migratory birds visit the park.
This is the low season of the park, prices for tickets and accommodation are normally discounted.
From March, it’s very wet and some roads and trails can be hard to penetrate.
You will have clear views of wild animals that also have a home in this park. These are normally seen along game drives that are organized at different times in the park. The commonly known game drives are during day. The uniqueness of this park is that night game drives are also arranged. These unusual game drives are amazing for they expose to hideouts or homes of these creatures. You will find some asleep and others enjoying dinner, but the feeling of being in the wilderness will be one of a king on this night game drive. Await to see the likes of African buffaloes, elephants, lions, African leopard, East African cheetah, giraffe, spotted hyena, hippopotamus, sable antelope, bushbuck, impala, greater and lesser kudu, African wild dog, and roan antelopes. You may take a video of them or photos of them.
The park has a home for the flying creatures. Many tourists have started to pay attention to these birds. You will see more of these creature in the wet season when migratory birds join the home birds. You will need to take a few hours and see most of the unique birds in Europe and Africa. Guides will direct you to bird’s favorite spots and as you enjoy other activities in the park, you won’t miss the amazing sights of hornbills, vultures, Eleanora’s falcon, black billed bustard, African fish eagle, emerald spotted wood dove, ashy starling, bateleurs, long crested eagle, crested barbet, white billied go away bird and Goliath heron, among others. With the support of binoculars and during different time of the day, you will see more.
- Ruaha River Lodge
They provide tourist activities, with bandas and lodges with en suite bathrooms, facilities like a restaurant, constant walk supply, standby generator, a dining among others.
- Jongomero Camp
Provide spacious tents for accommodation, with en suite bathrooms, constant power supply, and offer tourism activities like game drives, guided walk safaris, camping,
- Ruaha Hilltop Lodge
They have self-contained cottages for accommodation. They have constant power and water supply, they have a reception, a kitchen and a dining area, and provide local and international dishes, a gallery, and they offer activities like game drives in jeeps, hiking activities, a bar, among other facilities.
- Tandala Lodge
They have 10 luxurious spacious tents for accommodation, with twin beds arrangement, and each tent has a private verandah. It lies in a unique position in view of wildlife and birdlife. They have a swimming pool, a restaurant, a bar and constant power supply.
- Kigella Camp
This is located in the park, and it’s in a perfect place to watch the game. It’s facilities include: tourist activities like guided walks, game drives, bush breakfast and dinner, kitchen that prepares tasty meals, spacious tents with en suite out door bathrooms.
- Sunset Mountain Lodge
It offers tourism activities like camping, game drives, hiking, they offer meals to visitors, provide accommodation in form of self-contained chalets, for both midrange and budget categories.
- Chogella Camp
Offer accommodation for midrange and budget, they offer facilities like, restaurant, a bar, and offer almost all tourist activities. It lies only 10km from the park
- Mdoya River Camp
Located within the park, along Old Mdonya riverbeds, provides spacious tents with verandas. It offers game drives, bird watching, guided night walks, hiking, among others.
- Kichaka Camp
Located in the groove trees, it offers accommodation for midrange and budget categories. It has spacious tents, with verandas, constant power supply, and it provides tourism activities