Ruaha National Park is the second-largest national park.
Home to nearly 10 per cent of the lion population in Africa, Ruaha National Park is the second largest national park in Tanzania.
Ruaha National Park
Our private guided wildlife safaris in Ruaha National Park will take you on a journey to the almost untouched ecosystem filled with some rare and endangered species that you won’t see at other parks. Ruaha National Park is the second largest national park in Tanzania, covering an area of about 20,226 sq km and is located in central Tanzania. Close to Ruaha, there are a few other protected areas named; Rungwe Game Reserve, Usanga Game Reserve and Kisigo Game Reserve.
The park is named after the Great Ruaha River, which is 475 km long, and one of the main reasons the park is exceptional for game viewing. The Great Ruaha River, as well as Mwagusi, Jongomero and Mzombe, flow between beautiful undulating hills. The semi-arid vegetation is dominated by baobab and acacia trees, but over 1,650 plant species have been identified in the park.
Ruaha National Park perfectly captures the hazy sense of adventure that your safari experience is about. The monkeys are adorable, and the elephant herds are impressive, but the real thrill of a safari comes from the predators. You instinctively reach out to grab each other when you see lion paws. Keep an eye out. Here is one more. The cubs now come out of the grass clearing. The lion prides in Ruaha are not only numerous but also unusually large. One, two, three, wait, four, five. Look out because 24 lions are now calmly strolling by the safari jeep. No, it should be 25, with a cute cub coming in last. A procession of elegant felines passes by in almost unnerving proximity as some people yawn and others stare.
Few safari locations in Africa are as alluring as Ruaha and can make you feel isolated from humankind. As the sun sets and lion roars can be heard drifting into the camp, you may be left wondering how this untouched wilderness managed to avoid becoming a crowded tourist destination.
The Best Time to Visit Ruaha National Park
The highlights of Ruaha National Park safaris are best experienced during the dry season as it is easier to spot wildlife and access the park. The dry season lasts from late June to October. The rainy season starts in April and ends in May.
Ruaha River flows along its South-Eastern margin and is the main hangout area for most animals that come around for drinking water. This makes it one of the great spots for viewing the big game in Africa.
Birds of Ruaha National Park
A birdwatcher’s paradise, the park is home to more than 571 species, including those that have migrated from Europe, Asia, the Australian rim and Madagascar. Though birds can be seen all year round, the best time for bird-watching is during the wet season (February), when the vegetation will also be at its most luscious.
Kudu, Wild Dogs and Other Animals
The start and end of each day in Ruaha National Park will offer you a unique safari experience. On your game drive, you will see all the Big Five safari animals, such as elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras and impalas. Keep an eye out for endangered wild dogs or even the greater kudu (a woodland antelope), which you won’t find in any other national park.
Waterfalls along the Great Ruaha River are also well worth a stop-off as they are vital habitats for hippos, fish and crocodiles.
To enhance your private guided Ruaha National Park safaris, why not experience this untouched wilderness on foot? Adding a walking safari to your safari in Ruaha, your senses will tingle, your heart will race, and your vivid encounter with Africa’s wildlife – large and small – will forever be etched in your memory.
Ready to start planning a tailor-made safari to Ruaha National Park? Our experts make planning your Tanzania safari experience a walk in the park. To help you with trip planning, browse our travel guide to find expert advice on safari in Ruaha. Get inspired with our sample itineraries and let our Wito experts customize a dream trip just for you!
Want to experience a breathtaking wildlife safari in Ruaha National Park? Here are the best months to go.
The best time to enjoy unparalleled wildlife viewing in Ruaha National Park is during the dry season, from June to October. During this time, excellent weather conditions can be expected across the country, and wildlife viewing should be spectacular. Ruaha River flows along its South-Eastern margin and is the main hangout area for most animals that come around for drinking water. This makes it one of the great spots for viewing the big game in Africa.
The roads in Ruaha become inaccessible during the heavy rainy season, so many camps tend to stay closed in April and May. We do not recommend travelling to Ruaha during the wet season.
How to get to Ruaha National Park?
The reserve is easy to access from Dar es Salaam, Selous, Katavi, Mikumi, Arusha and Zanzibar by light aircraft. Moreover, one can also drive to/from Ruaha, below are approximate driving times:
- Iringa to Ruaha: 2-3 hours drive
- Mikumi to Ruaha: 5-6 hours drive
- Udzungwa to Ruaha: 5-6 hours drive
Since Selous is a bit far away from Ruaha, we recommend you take a quick flight if you wish to explore both parks.
This is what your typical safari in Ruaha National Park would look like:
In the early morning, you will enjoy private game driving with your professional safari guide and vehicle. Our game drives are flexible depending on your preferences, so feel free to start your daily safari anytime you want.
Choose to roam Africa’s wide-open wilderness from dawn to dusk on a full-day game drive or enjoy a daily dose of morning and afternoon game drives, followed by a delicious hot lunch and a lion-like siesta! If you prefer to do a full-day game drive, we will provide you with a packed lunch so you can break whenever you would like to enjoy a classic safari picnic lunch made with locally sourced, fresh ingredients.
After a full-day safari in Ruaha National Park, you will be taken to your handpicked safari camp or lodge, where you will unwind and savour some delicious food and sundowners.
Finally, to enhance your tailor-made safari in Ruaha National Park, why not experience this untouched wilderness on foot? You will also have the option to go on a unique night game drive in which you will see some of Africa’s unusual nocturnal wildlife under the blanket of a million stars and magical moonlight.
Ready to start planning? Select your preferred time to travel, then let a Wito Africa safari expert create an itinerary that meets your needs for a safari and incorporates the highlights of that season. We can save you time, money, headaches and heartache by helping you plan your dream safari. To start planning your safari in Ruaha, please call us at 1-315.805.4040 or send our safari experts a message via email.
How to Plan Your Wildlife Safari in Ruaha National Park Like a Pro
There are many factors to consider when planning a safari to Ruaha National Park, one of the untouched areas of the southern part of Tanzania. The infrastructure isn’t as good as in the north, and travel times are longer. However, this region offers some of Africa’s most undiscovered and underappreciated treasure parks; Mikumi and Selous.
Southern Tanzania is off the beaten path and offers the best wildlife viewing for those discerning guests seeking even more adventure, perhaps on their second or third safari trip. It is possible to combine the north, Zanzibar, and south parks on a seven-to-ten-day trip thanks to safari flights’ quick and direct connections.
Deciding which reliable tour operator (s) to use for your dream African safari experience is not an easy task. With a sea of general online tour operators, it is hard to find the ONE that truly speaks to your discerning tastes and genuinely understands your travel needs and expectations.
Start by gathering enough information to help you decide on the best destination. Depending on your itinerary, you can start your Ruaha National Park safari from Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Iringa, Selous or Mikumi. The main airport of Tanzania, Dar-es-Salaam International Airport, serves as a hub for travel to the Indian Ocean coast, Zanzibar, Nyerere National Park (previously Selous), and Mikumi.
During the dry season, Ruaha has so much to offer. We suggest you spend at least two nights in this lovely park. To get the most out of your wildlife-filled safari adventure, we recommend combining your visit with the nearby Mikumi and Selous Game Reserve. Give yourself at least two full days to travel through the Ruaha and the Selous, two very different safari destinations in terms of scenery.
Similarly to many other national parks in Tanzania, Ruaha National Park offers a unique setting for safari-goers to stay inside the park. You will be staying in some of the most charming safari camps and lodges, where you will unwind and enjoy delicious food and sundowners.
Southern Tanzania’s first safari lodge gives you a taste of what’s to come. The lodge blends into its surroundings rather than using fences to separate it from the wild, so it’s common to see animals wandering past your suite. A fire crackles nearby, a candlelit table for two is set under the stars, and the sounds of the wild permeate your lodge as dinner is served in a unique setting.
With several accommodation options to choose from, we can guarantee that your safari experience will be meticulously created just for you with your specific interests, travel style and schedule. Everything will be tailored to your preference, allowing you to enjoy a perfect balance of comfort, adventure and maximum wildlife viewing. We will only recommend the places we have stayed in and inspected thoroughly, and we can guarantee you will be safe.
If you want to explore the beauty of Ruaha on game drives, we highly recommend using qualified local safari guides. With our personalized trips, you will have control over your experience and enjoy all the flexibility you need to plan your daily game drives with your private safari guide.
You can decide when to start your trip and how long your daily game drives should last, as long as it is within the time set by the national park authorities (the park gates usually open at 06h00 and close at 18h30). Ultimately, you will have an opportunity to choose what you would like to do, when you would like to start your private safari trip, and where you would like to go.
At Wito Africa, we do not limit game drives by restricting drivers on the mileage they can travel per day. Therefore, we are happy to offer you an extensive all-day private game drive with a picnic lunch break between your game drives.
As a standard offering for all our experiences, we provide all meals, bottled drinking water, tea/coffee and juices at breakfast for the duration of your safari. We can accommodate all kinds of dietary requirements such as vegetarian, vegan, halal, and kosher to pescatarian.
Moreover, bottled drinking water and soft drinks will be readily available throughout your safari experience with us. We have a stocked mini-fridge in the vehicle that will cool drinks whilst you enjoy your uninterrupted wildlife viewing from the comfort of your customized safari jeep.
Our unique approach to offering a stress-free safari experience starts with ensuring that you are well-informed about the specific requirements of the country you visit so you know exactly what to expect. Understanding how a safari operates, what is involved before and during, and what key points to consider when booking ensures an unforgettable safari adventure. Topics like when to visit, how to get there, and what to pack are addressed by safari experts.
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Our guaranteed trips are packed with wildlife encounters, sightseeing, and activities that all reﬂect your group’s focus and interests. Most importantly, you will make life-long friends and memories you will never forget!
WHY TRAVELERS CHOOSE US
At Wito Africa Safaris, giving our customers unbiased advice and exceptional safari experiences is what we live and breathe. Our Africa safari experts are well-traveled and have in-depth first-hand knowledge of the places they suggest. To make sure these offerings live up to the expectations of our guests, the experts at Wito Africa routinely inspect new lodges, experiences, and activities. Nothing beats current, pertinent travel advice obtained directly from a local expert. The Wito Africa 'dream team' will be there for you every step of the way to ensure that even your smallest needs are met and no detail is overlooked, so you can embrace your experience with complete peace of mind.
WHERE TO STAY IN RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Just for you, we have hunted out the very best lodges, villas, camps and even treehouses in Tanzania to suit every budget, itinerary and personal preference. Trust us – you’re going to be spoilt for choice! An awe-inspiring setting is just the beginning… Every one of our recommended accommodation options will blow you away with personal service, attention to detail and various levels of luxury.
As a base for exploring everything that Ruaha National Park offers, it doesn’t get more lavish than Jabali Ridge. Made up of just eight suites that almost disappear into the surrounding landscape, this is first-class accommodation at its best.
With an infinity pool, full spa and gin bar, we highly recommend Jabali Ridge to couples, newlyweds, and those who want the ultimate luxury experience for their stay in Ruaha National Park. The great thing about this location is that it’s a bit more off the beaten tourist track, so it feels like you have the wilderness all to yourself.
Under the magnificent shade trees on the banks of the Jongomero sand river lies the beautiful Jongomero camp. This hidden gem is tucked away in a remote corner of the Ruaha National Park. Here you will get a chance to experience Africa’s best-kept secret. For guests that seek an authentic African adventure, a visit to Ruaha National Park is essential.
Blending in beautifully with its surroundings, the camp is tucked below a dappled riverine canopy on the banks of the seasonal Jongomero river, a natural pathway for animals that look for water. Positioned on one of the meanders, with sweeping views of the bank beyond, lies the camp bar, lounge and restaurant, which comprises an open wooden terrace shaded by a high thatched roof with comfortable sofas and furniture which are made of reclaimed dhow wood. After-game experiences by vehicle and on foot, laze around the elevated pool and enjoy the sights and sounds of being so close to nature.
Accommodation at Jongomero comprises eight large, well-appointed tented suites built on raised wooden platforms under enormous thatched roofs. The suites encompass a spacious private deck which overlooks the dry riverbed. You often find animals ambling past your tent, looking for water and food. At Jongomero, you will experience the ultimate remote off-the-beaten-track safari adventure.
We love this camp because it takes you back to nature and lets the landscape speak for itself. The simple charm of this place is refreshing, with just six tents clustered beneath the Sausage Tree (Kigelia Africana). It’s peaceful and remote. It stirs the senses as you tune in with the rustles, calls and sighs of the wilderness around you.
If you’re on a budget or don’t want all the trappings and distractions of a luxury lodge, this is an excellent choice. You can experience the thrills of big cat sightings and elephant encounters while enjoying the comfort and attention of a friendly, dedicated team.
Jabali Private House
Jabali Private House is always taken exclusively and is perfect for a family or small group of friends. Inspired by its surrounding natural landscape, the House is built around three of Ruaha’s iconic baobab trees and blends seamlessly into the environment.
Jabali Private house has two master bedrooms and an additional twin bedroom. Offering indoor and outdoor dining and relaxing areas, this is the ideal venue for your dinner parties in the wild. The House has a private plunge pool. All the facilities at Jabali Ridge are available to guests at the House.