RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Ruaha National Park is set in the heart of Tanzania, approximately 130kms away from Western Iringa Town. This park was founded in 1964 and it is named after the Great Ruaha River that flows on its Southeastern side. It sits in an area of about 20226sq.km making it the most extensive national park in Tanzania and East Africa at large. It covers a section of the Rungwa-Kizigo Muhesi ecosystem which expands up to 45000sq.kms and includes the Rungwe Game Reserve, Kizigo Game Reserve, and Muhesi Game Reserve as well as the Mbomipa Wildlife Management Area.
History of Ruaha National Park
This protected area’s unique history can be traced back to 1910 when it was originally set as the Saba Game Reserve by Germany. In 1946, the British colonial authorities altered the name to Rungwa Game Reserve. Usangu Game Reserve plus other significant wetlands in Usangu basin were added into Ruaha National Park in 2008 which extended the park’s area coverage hence making the largest park in Tanzania with area coverage of about 20226sq.kms. Its status changed from reserve to national park in 1964 and initially, Ruaha National Park was famous for its huge concentration of elephants. However, Ruaha National Park still features among the best safari destinations that attract visitors on the Tanzania safari holiday.
Attractions in Ruaha National Park
- Wildlife in Ruaha National Park
The various species of wildlife in Ruaha National Park include lions, wild dogs, giraffes, buffaloes, sable antelopes, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas, elands, zebras, impalas, jackals, bat-eared foxes, poisonous snakes, lizards, bushbucks, roan antelopes, jackals, crocodiles, greater and lesser Kudus and many others.
- Birdlife in Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is blessed with a diversity of bird species which make it one of the bird havens in Tanzania. An estimate of about 571 bird species is distributed in different habitats of this park and they range from resident birds to migratory birds. The notable birds to identify on Tanzania safari in Ruaha National Park include crested barbets, Ashy starlings, white-backed night heron, saddle-billed storks, goliath herons, Southern ground hornbill, yellow collared lovebird, long-crested eagle, Tanzanian red-billed hornbill, white-bellied go-away bird, collared palm thrush, African fish eagle, black-bellied bustards, Namaqua dove, Eleonora’s falcons, bateleur, martial and snake eagles, Pel’s fishing owl, African hawk, kingfishers, violet crested turacos, Dickson’s kestrel, pale billed hornbill, racket-tailed roller, green wood hoopoes, bee-eaters to mention but a few.
- Historical sites
Ruaha National Reserve features many historical and cultural sites that are worth exploring on Tanzania safari. The early trade routes that were used by the Arab caravans passed via this park and the traders at the time increased their routes Northwards around 1830 and later, European explorers including Burton and Speke used the same routes between 1857 and 1858. On the other hand, Chief Mkwawa of the Hehe people also used the same routes when paying a visit to his chiefdoms in Gogo and Sangu. The other cultural sites to explore in Ruaha National Park include the Chahe and Nyanywa, Gogo chief Mapenza grave at Mpululu, painting the rock at Nyanywa, Ganga la Mafunyo, Mkwawa spring. These cultural sites were used for rituals and some of them are believed to have been used by Chief Mkwawa.
The major rivers to visit on Tanzania safari in Ruaha National Reserve include Mwagusi, Mdonya, great Ruaha and Mzombe.
Other attractions in Ruaha National Park include the great rift valley which crosses this protected area and features a unique escarpment wall on the Western Valley side. Natural springs like Mwayembe, Majimoto, Mkwawa and Makinde springs.
Activities to do in Ruaha National Park
Game viewing is one most rewarding safari activity visitors on Tanzania safari can engage in while in Ruaha National Reserve. It lets you catch a glimpse at diverse wildlife including lions, wild dogs, giraffes, buffaloes, sable antelopes, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas, elands, zebras, impalas, jackals, bat-eared foxes, bushbucks, roan antelopes, jackals, greater and lesser Kudus. Wildlife viewing in Ruaha National Park is possible during day game drives and night game drives.
Bird watching in Ruaha National Reserve involves spotting distinct bird species such as crested barbets, Ashy starlings, white-backed night heron, yellow collared lovebird, long-crested eagle, Tanzanian red-billed hornbill, white-bellied go-away bird, saddle-billed storks, goliath herons, Southern ground hornbill, collared palm thrush, African fish eagle, black-bellied bustards, kingfishers, violet crested turacos, Dickson’s kestrel, pale billed hornbill, racket-tailed roller, green wood hoopoes, bee-eaters, Namaqua dove, Eleonora’s falcons, bateleur, martial and snake eagles, Pel’s fishing owl, African hawk.
- Guided nature walks
There are many walking trails set for nature enthusiasts to uncover the hidden treasures in and around Ruaha National Reserve. Nature walks in this park can cover between 2 and 3 hours and exposes visitors to the park’s unique bird species and flora.
- Best time to visit Ruaha National Reserve
The dry season is considered to be the best time to visit Ruaha National Reserve. It is during this period that several wildlife species confine in water sources to take water and the vegetation is also clear thus offering a clear view over diverse wildlife species. The dry season in Ruaha National Reserve occurs in the months of June, July, August, September, and October. Birding is best done in the months of November and April. These are wet months of the year in Ruaha National Park and it is when most migratory birds and resident bird confine in most of the park’s habitats to breed.
- Accommodation in Ruaha National Reserve
Ruaha National Reserve features a wide range of accommodation options where visitors spend a night. They include Ikuka Camp, Mdonya Old River Camp, Mwagusi Safari Camp, Kichacka Camp, Jabali Ridge, Jongomero Camp, Ruaha River Lodge, Tandala Tented Camp and many more.
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