ABOUT RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Ruaha national park is located in Tanzania. The name “Ruaha” originates from the Hehe word “Ruvaha”, which means “river”. It is part of the Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem which includes the Rungwa Game Reserve, the Kizigo and Muhesi Game Reserves and the Mbomipa Wildlife Management Area. The park derived its name from Ruaha river which flows through the Usangu wetlands and the Ruaha National Park east into the Rufiji River. A second river, Njombe traverses the park through gorges and rocky broken landscapes. Crocodiles are also commonly seen basking on the banks of the rivers. The park covers about 20,226 km2
Situated far off the beaten track, away from crazy camera clicking crowds, this rough tract of wilderness pulsates the real energy of an Africa long-forgotten. Visitors come to Ruaha to enjoy the dramatic landscapes and abundance of wildlife, with well-maintained roads and few visitors.
CLIMATE IN RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Ruaha National Park has a bimodal pattern of rainforest. The short rainfall season begins November to February, while the long season is between March and April. The annual mean rainfall ranges between 500mm-800mm with the average annual temperature of about 280c. The park also experiences its dry season between June and October.
Vegetation consists of clumps of palms and patches of open grassland; in the north there are scattered baobab trees and scrubby woodland. The central spine of the Park is the watershed between the Mzombe and the Great Ruaha river, with its dramatic escarpment above which are large stretches of miombo woodland. Below this lies undulating plains with vegetation ranging from dry bush country to treeless grasslands, swamps and evergreen forests intersected by the many sand rivers that are such a spectacular feature of this area. Ruaha also represents a transition zone where eastern and southern species of flora and fauna overlap. About 1,650 plant species can be found here.
ANIMALS AND BIRDS OF RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Ruaha is known not only for its rugged and magnificent landscapes or its remoteness and wild immensity but also its spectacular concentration of game. Large herds of Elephants and Buffalos are common sightings. Lions and Leopards are also abundant. One of Ruaha’s principal attractions is the incredible variety of Antelopes among them Elands, Roan, Oribi, Grants Gazelle and Sable. Other animals in the park include Cheetahs, Giraffes, Zebras, Elands, Impalas, bat eared Foxes and Jackals.
Ruaha also provides a safe haven to rare species such as African wild dogs and the ever-elusive striped Hyenas. Ruaha boasts a huge variety of wildlife throughout the year but specific sightings are more common depending on the season. The park is also one of the Tanzania birder’s paradise with more than 571 species recorded. Migrating species from Europe, Asia, Australian rim and Madagascar have been recorded in the park too. Species of interest in the park include Ruaha red-billed hornbill (Tokus ruahae) which is dominant in the area.
ATTRACTIONS IN RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
- Wildlife – Ruaha is one of the parks with high concentration of elephants in East Africa. It is also a place where you can spot magnificent mammals like Kudu (both Greater and Lesser), Sable and Roan antelopes in Miombo woodland. Other animals in the park include lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, bat eared foxes and Jackals.
- Birds – The diversity of birdlife in Ruaha is more than most other East African Parks and is extraordinary. Due to its geographical location, you can find both northern and southern migrants. These include the Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, Violet-crested Turaco and Pel’s Fishing Owl among others.
- Historical and Cultural Site – There are several historical and cultural sites in the park which offers visitors a chance to explore the Southern Tanzanian tribes. Some of the cultural sites include Ganga la Mafunyo, Nyanywa and Chahe, Painting rock at Nyanywa, Isimila pillars near Iringa town and God’s bridge just to mention a few.
- Rivers – The river systems and watershed are of economical, social and ecological significance for the park itself and country at large. Main rivers include the Great Ruaha, Mzombe, Mdonya, Mwagusi and Jongomero.
- Natural Springs – The springs occur throughout the park and are associated with the base of the Western Rift Valley escarpment, most notably Mkwawa, Mwayembe, Makinde and Majimoto springs. They also act as dry season refuge for wildlife when most of the rivers get dry.
- Rift Valley – The valley of the Great Ruaha River is an extension of the Great Rift Valley. The escarpment wall along the western valley side is about 50-100m high in the north-eastern parts. It also increases in height to the southwest.
- Physical Features – Ruaha National Park has a wide range of physical features from the Great Rift Valley, river systems, natural springs, wetlands, hot water springs and kopjes to the beautiful rolling hills and mountains.
ACTIVITIES IN RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
- Game Viewing – Game viewing during a game drive in Ruaha national park is rewarding. Some of the game sightings include greater and lesser Kudus, Leopards, Lions, Cheetahs, Impalas, Bushbucks, Giraffes and occasionally Sable and Roan Antelopes among others.
- Birding – Ruaha national park is a birder’s paradise with over 571 species of birds. Some of the birds found at the park are African fish eagle, bateleurs, Eleanora’s falcon, emerald spotted wood dove, crested barbet and long crested eagle among others.
- Guided Nature Walks – The walks lasts for about two to three hours. Ruaha national park provides visitors with many walking trails to experience the wilderness on foot; the trails will also expose you to a lot of birdlife and plant species as well as animals at a closer range.
- Night game drive – Ruaha national park is the second largest national park in the center of Tanzania. It is also among the few parks offering night game drives. It happens at around 8:00 pm after dinner with the company of a park ranger. The ranger protects you from any danger and also help you spot nocturnal animals.
ACCOMMODATION IN RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
There are several choices when it comes to accommodations in Ruaha National Park. Luxury stays include lodges inside the park run by private innholders while more affordable options by the park service itself include cottages, bandas, and a hostel. They include; Ruaha River Lodge, Jabali Lodge, Kichaka Expedition camp, Kigelia Camp and Ikuka permanent Tented Camp among others.