Ruaha National Park is now Tanzania’s largest national park and offers excellent wildlife viewing. It is perfect for spotting predators, including huge lions and the endangered wild dogs. Elephants and a wide variety of antelope species are other big draws to the park. It also has outstanding wilderness appeal, with limited exclusive, luxury camps available.
All big cats are regularly seen, and wild dogs are the star attraction. They are straightforward to find when denning. Several antelope species rare or absent in northern Tanzania, such as greater and lesser kudu, roan, and sable antelope, are often encountered.
The park’s main feature is the Great Ruaha River, which attracts wild animals loads in the Dry season. The dominant vegetation is Brachystegia (miombo) woodland, and some areas are dotted with the impressive baobab tree.
1. Ruaha National Park Location
Ruaha National Park is located in the West of the Selous Game Reserve and South of The Serengeti. It is a really amazing destination with its unbelievable wildlife. Its geographical location means it is a longer and more costly flight that keeps the volume of visitors low, all adding to its raw and uncommercial feel. There is a new flight connecting the Serengeti and Ruaha, but you can also get flights from Dar es Salaam and The Selous.
2. How to Get to Ruaha National Park
Safaris to Ruaha usually start from Dar es Salaam, and your point of entry for the country will be Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR). Your tour operator will pick you up from the airport and handle all further transportation in most cases.
The drive to Ruaha from Dar es Salaam takes about 10 hours, and a lot of it is on a dusty, bumpy road. Many people traveling to Ruaha make a stopover at Mikumi National Park. From Mikumi, the distance to Ruaha is about 320km/200mi, and the drive takes roughly five hours.
The easier way to get to Ruaha is by chartered or scheduled flight from Dar es Salaam to the park’s airstrip. There are also flights connecting all parts of the southern circuit safari.
In this case, flights will leave from the airstrip in Selous or Mikumi. Flights from Arusha town, the base for the northern safari circuit, are also available. Coastal Aviation also offers direct scheduled flights between Serengeti National Park and Ruaha National Park.
Airlines & Ticket Prices
Please check Skyscanner, or for multiple-destination flights check Expedia, to see which airlines can take you to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) and what tickets would cost.
In most cases, charter flights are booked by your tour operator as part of your tour package. Scheduled flights can be booked with a local carrier:
- Coastal Aviation
- Safari Air Link
- Auric Air
3. Wildlife in Ruaha National Park
Remote Ruaha is an unspoiled wilderness famed for its large number of elephants. In fact, aside from rhino, all major safari animals are present in good numbers. A large pride of lion, sometimes counting more than 20 individuals, roam the park, and even buffalo, an unusual prey, isn’t safe here.
One of the park’s key attractions is the wild dogs. There are only a handful of places where these charismatic pack animals are easily observed, which is best. Ruaha is also home to the largest population of greater kudu in East Africa. Other rare antelope species that can be seen here include lesser kudu, roan, and sable antelope.
Best Time for Wildlife Viewing
The middle and end of the Dry season (from June to October) is the best time for wildlife viewing in the park. Wildlife is easier to spot because the vegetation is thinner, and animals gather around predictable water sources.
The male greater kudu is most visible in June, the breeding season. The best time to see the wild dog is during their denning season, from June to August.
The concentration of predators is beyond exciting and better than most other parks in Tanzania. Ruaha is home to approximately 10% of the world’s lion population and has the third-largest wild dog population in all of Africa.
The wild dogs are the real attraction to most safari-goers and are especially easy to locate when they are denning from June to August.
There are only a handful of parks where these charismatic pack animals are easily observed, and many parks do not have space for them to thrive.
While all of the big cats are regularly seen, the lion viewing around the Mwagusi area is particularly rewarding for those looking to see large pride. These pride can sometimes exceed twenty individuals and regularly attack large animals like Cape buffalo.
Ruaha is home to several antelope species that you will struggle to see in northern Tanzania, including the roan and sable antelopes, plus the greater and lesser kudu.
In fact, Ruaha is home to the largest population of greater kudu in all of East Africa. This unusually high diversity of antelope is one of the many Ruaha highlights.
There are huge elephant and buffalo herds that roam the park and a cross-over of the game from Southern and Eastern Africa that help add to the variety.
There are no rhinos in Ruaha, so it is not a big five national park. But you don’t need the big five when the wildlife population is so diverse and abundant.
Birds and Reptiles
The park is a real paradise for birds in Tanzania, with over 500 species, including birds from other African continent parts.
The most substantial and visible populations are of the Black-collared lovebird and ashy starlings. There are also six species of both hornbills and vultures, favorites to see for African bird enthusiasts.
Migrating species from Asia, Australia, and Europe have also been recorded in the park. The red-billed wood hoopoe, racquet-tailed roller, and violet-crested turaco are among the many-colored migrant bird species that visit the park.
Birdlife International recognizes the Usangu Basin wetland in Ruaha as one of Tanzania’s most important bird habitats.
Southern ground hornbill about to swallow an insect, Ruaha
You can expect to find water birds such as white-headed plovers, saddle-billed storks, goliath herons, and the white-backed night heron along the park’s many rivers.
Raptor lovers will be pleased to find many bateleurs and fish eagle, along with Eleonora’s falcon being very common at the beginning and end of the year.
Along with large mammals and feathery friends, the park is also home to several reptiles and amphibians. These include crocodiles, monitor lizards, frogs, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, and agama lizards.
4. Climate at Ruaha National Park
Weather in January
January, the same as December, is another warm summer month in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, with average temperature varying between 29°C (84.2°F) and 19°C (66.2°F). In Ruaha National Park, the average high temperature in January is almost the same as in December – a moderately hot 29°C (84.2°F).
Weather in February
February, the last month of the summer in Ruaha National Park, is also a moderately hot month, with average temperature varying between 19°C (66.2°F) and 29°C (84.2°F). In February, the average high-temperature remains the same as in January – a still warm 29°C (84.2°F).
Weather in March
The first month of the autumn, March is still warm in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, with an average temperature ranging between max 29°C (84.2°F) and min 19°C (66.2°F). In Ruaha National Park, the average high-temperature remains the same as in February – a still warm 29°C (84.2°F).
Weather in April
April, the same as March, is another warm autumn month in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, with average temperature varying between 29°C (84.2°F) and 18°C (64.4°F). In Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, the average high-temperature in April remains equal in March – a still moderately hot 29°C (84.2°F).
Weather in May
May, the last month of the autumn, in Ruaha National Park, is another warm month, with average temperature varying between 17°C (62.6°F) and 28°C (82.4°F). In May, the average high-temperature is almost the same as in April – a still warm 28°C (82.4°F).
Weather in June
The first month of the winter, June, is also moderately hot in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, with temperature in the range of an average low of 15°C (59°F) and an average high of 28°C (82.4°F). In Ruaha National Park, the average high-temperature remains the same as in May – a still warm 28°C (82.4°F).
Weather in July
July, like June, in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, is a moderately hot winter month, with an average temperature ranging between max 27°C (80.6°F) and min 14°C (57.2°F). With an average high-temperature of 27°C (80.6°F) and an average low-temperature of 14°C (57.2°F), July is the coldest month. July through September are months without rainfall.
Weather in August
August, the last month of the winter in Ruaha National Park, is also a moderately hot month, with average temperature fluctuating between 28°C (82.4°F) and 15°C (59°F). In August, the average high-temperature is essentially the same as in July – a still warm 28°C (82.4°F).
Weather in September
September, the first month of the spring, in Ruaha National Park, is a tropical month, with average temperature fluctuating between 30°C (86°F) and 16°C (60.8°F). In Ruaha National Park, the average high-temperature is essentially the same as in August – a hot 30°C (86°F).
Weather in October
October, the same as September, in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, is a hot spring month, with an average temperature ranging between max 31°C (87.8°F) and min 18°C (64.4°F). In Ruaha National Park, the average high temperature in October is relatively the same as in September – a still tropical 31°C (87.8°F).
Weather in November
The last month of the spring, November, is also hot in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, with temperature in the range of an average high of 32°C (89.6°F) and an average low of 19°C (66.2°F). The warmest month is November, with an average high-temperature of 32°C (89.6°F) and an average low-temperature of 19°C (66.2°F).
Weather in December
The first month of the summer, December, is also hot in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, with average temperature varying between 30°C (86°F) and 20°C (68°F). In December, the average high-temperature is almost the same as in November – a still tropical 30°C (86°F).
5. Ruaha National Park Entrance Fee
When you plan a safari to Tanzania, it is important to know the Government Park entrance fees you need to pay before entering each Tanzania National Parks. These costs are essential to know as the Tanzania National park fees are high in cost.
It is also important to know that if you plan to pay the Tanzania National park fees yourself, then you need to pay the Tanzania National park fees with a Visa or Master Card Only as no cash is accepted.
The fee for Ruaha National Park is
Non-Citizen Entry Fee
- Non Resident Adults Inside the park(16 years and above) – US$30
- Non Resident Children inside the park(Between the age of 5-16) – US$10
Citizen Entry Fee
- Resident Adults Inside the park(16 years and above) – US$15
- Resident Children inside the park(Between the age of 5-16) – US$5
6. Things To Do in Ruaha National Park
Ruaha national park is home to a 10% population of lions, and it is easier to see them when you choose to go on a game drive safari in Rhea. The game drive can be done both in the morning and in the evening, allowing you to get up close and personal with the predator.
Buffalo and elephant herds are found throughout the park, but the park’s crazy combinations of species from east and southern Africa excites wildlife enthusiasts. Please get to know about the abundant flora and fauna of the Ruhua national park, making it the best safari destination in Africa.
Tanzania is a land of many lakes and rivers, traversing lands rich in wildlife. Exploring the aquatic wildlife on a boat is another level of experience. Boat safari in Tanzania offers an excellent opportunity to get close with the animals such as hippos and view many games along the river as they come over for a drink of water. The waterways provide an excellent natural setting for boat safaris and canoeing, one of the best things to do in Tanzania.
Avid bird watchers have an excellent opportunity to view different species of birds. With a sensational mix of southern and northern species, Ruaha’s birdlife is endearingly colorful. When in Tanzania, witnessing the birdlife is one of an experience.
The park boasts 580 bird varieties, including fish eagles, Eleanora’s falcon, goliath herons, crested barbets, and Black-collared lovebirds. Ruaha also boasts endemic species such as the Tanzanian red-billed hornbill and serves as an important habitat for several critically endangered vulture populations.
Guided nature walks
Ruaha national park provides visitors with many walking trails to experience the wilderness on foot; the trails will expose you to many birdlife and plant species, and animals. This normally lasts for about two to three hours; a guided nature walk is also a great opportunity to take many photos of nature and take them back home for remembrance.
Night game drives
Night game drives at Ruaha national park are done occasionally. The park’s headquarters must be informed in advance tourists will explore the park with an armed tourist guided as you view nocturnal animals like hyenas and hippos giving you a thrilling lifetime experience of the night whispers in Africa.
The best time to visit the best-kept secret in Tanzania is during the dry season when animals are gathered within the water bodies quenching thirst. This period is from June to October when the vegetation is not thick, giving you excellent and clear views of the magnificent park.
A cultural tour in Africa allows you to know more about the tribal people and their way of living. The villages in Tanzania have been made accessible to visitors who may have a glimpse of the authentic lifestyle of the more than 120 tribes in rural Tanzania.
The country is rich in local history and culture that showcases the visitors the true ethnicity of the people living in different parts. When in Tanzania, they experience their habitat and way of living, which increases tourism popularity.
A bush walk safari is an excellent way to explore the wilderness of Africa. An expert ranger guides you along and gives you an insight into the flora, fauna, and lush green scenery of Africa.
The guiding is superb, and encountering game on foot gives you a fully immersive wilderness experience that is thrilling and memorable. To experience wild endangered species and nature both, bushwalking in Tanzania can be an ideal choice to spend your South Africa tour.
One of the best things to do in Tanzania is wildlife photography of the endangered species and their living way. Whether you are a professional of many years or just a beginner, you will have ample opportunity to practice your technique while on safari.
For those who are looking for perfect shots of the wild beasts, a telephoto lens is recommended, and you will see lenses of all lengths and sizes while on safari. To ensure stability, sandbags are available in the vehicles, which also have charging facilities.
7. Best time to visit Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is accessible all year round, with most visitors arriving to adventurously tour East Africa in the dry season from June to October when game congregates around water sources, and it is easy to spot wildlife in the dry, golden landscape.
Sandy river beds focus spectacular concentrations of diverse mammals: buffalo and elephants by the hundred, baboons and antelopes by the dozen, lions by tens, and smaller mammals by ones and twos. The dry season is also the most popular time to safari in Tanzania’s wilds when the sun shines all day and rain is rare.
By November, temperatures build, and evening lightning flashes pastel-colored caverns in gathering clouds. You can savor the excitement of standing in the open as rain sweeps towards you across the savannah, soaking you in grateful coolness so that you share the almost hysterical relief of the staff who live here and the burgeoning life force renewing itself in plants and animals.
The wet season runs from November to May when the game is more widely dispersed, dry sand rivers become torrents, and arid miombo woodland becomes jade green and lush. A carpet of spring flowers flares into rainbows, butterflies and birds dazzle the eye and the breeding season for most ungulates and predators afford wonderful shots of new life.
Even the elephant engage in courtship, the male gently head-butting his mate and curling an affectionate trunk across her shoulders. Many connoisseurs of bush travel in Africa consider this the best time, appreciating the textures and scents of new growth after months of aridity.
8. Accommodations in Ruaha National Park
The accommodation options in Ruaha vary from rustic to extremely luxurious, and of course, the prices will reflect this. There are extremely affordable camps and great value for money with some offers running all year round, including camps in the Selous. Although the camps’ design may differ, almost every camp provides a raw and wild experience, which is the perfect way to spend a safari.
There are numerous different lodges within Ruaha, and below we have listed our favorites.
Situated on top of an incredible rocky escarpment with Ruaha National Park’s best views, Ikuka is a lodge that caters to everyone. This beautiful family-run lodge is made of love and care from larger groups to honeymooners and centered on making dreams a reality.
Behind all great lodges are great people; Mark, born and brought up in the Ruaha area, is the camp manager and owner. He is behind all the guiding and walking safaris here and knows the Park like the back of his hand. Expect an intimate, relaxed, and luxurious safari here with great views and top guiding.
Set up by Andrew ‘Moli’ Molinaro and Noelle Herzog, Kichaka Expeditions is one of the newest and exciting camps to open in Tanzania for years. Set up to focus on walking safaris within Ruaha National Park in southern Tanzania, taking either private or small group bookings of no more than six guests at any one time, ensuring complete exclusivity in the wilderness.
A small and luxurious lodge with eight suites in a fantastic location, Jabali Ridge stands out as a beautiful lodge in an ideal spot to view the amazing Ruaha wildlife.
Jongomero is an absolutely exceptional safari camp. It is one of our favorites in the whole of Tanzania, which is not a compliment we hand out lightly.
It is the most secluded camp in the park and offers fantastic service, exceptional cuisine, and guiding so good it borders genius. Jongomero really is a firm favorite and one we highly recommend.
Mdonya Old River Camp
Mdonya is, without a doubt, the best value camp in Ruaha National Park. It has that same charm and character of its famous sister camp in the Selous, Lake Manze Tented Camp. Mdonya may be basic and simple, but this is what Ruaha is all about.
It is a fierce and wild park, and Mdonya is in a very wild area within. With its great location, you can rely on quality game viewing, and you don’t necessarily need to spend that extra cash if luxury is not your priority. Mdonya and has always delivered, and we have a lot of faith in this little camp.
Mwagusi Safari Camp
A fantastic camp situated in the remote wilderness of the Ruaha National Park. It has a formidable reputation as a true safari camp that offers its guests a very authentic experience.
It offers a ‘rustic luxury’ that gives you everything you need in a true Tanzanian style. Run by the inimitable Chris Fox, who has spent his entire life in the park; it’s a real safari, in a great park with awesome guides. It helps that the food and service are also brilliant.
Kigelia is the least commercial product in Ruaha and offers a unique product. Owned and run by Nomad, this eco-focused camp blends extremely well with its environment, aided by excellent guides and a great camp character. Although it is rather basic in design, the high quality is obvious throughout your stay. It is a top choice for a Ruaha safari.
A totally private camp situated in the remote wilderness of the Ruaha National Park. It moves between two locations on the Mdonya river, in the shadow of the Kilimatonge Hill. This Camp offers a truly wild safari; it’s fairly basic. Still, no other camp, save for Kichaka, offers such a feeling of wilderness and a safari-style reminiscent of the early colonial explorers.
Kwihala Camp has found a really great happy medium. It has achieved a true, raw wilderness that compliments an extremely polished service and comfortable accommodation. It does give you a real experience in the wild and untamed landscape of Ruaha, which makes the camp an extraordinary place to go and stay.
Ruaha River Lodge
The Ruaha River Lodge is the cheapest accommodation in Ruaha National Park, which actually offers a good value stay. The setting is exceptional, right on the Ruaha river banks, and the backdrop with the rolling hills is great.
The only drawback is that the lodge is quite big and isn’t a brick and stone build-out. But that aside, it offers a great location and exceptional value. We believe that a little extra money to stay at Mdonya Old River Camp is worth the upgrade for a better all-around experience.
9. Safety in Ruaha National park
Travel to Ruaha National Park is very safe, in our opinion. There is almost no crime in Tanzanian parks. Petty theft is quite common in the cities, so normal safety precautions are recommended when visiting urban centers on your trip.
See ‘Cities & Urban Areas: Safety Precautions‘ below for more information. If you’re on an organized tour, your guide will ensure your safety throughout your safari.
Malaria & Vaccinations
Antimalarial medication is recommended for Ruaha. It is also advisable that you apply mosquito repellent with DEET (formulas containing this ingredient are the most effective) and wear long-sleeved clothing during evening hours. Contact your local doctor or health clinic regarding vaccinations required before your trip.
Wildlife Viewing Safety
Wildlife viewing is very safe as long as you follow the park’s rules and listen to your guide’s advice.
Ruaha National Park rarely experiences visitor’s crowds at any time; the middle and end of the Dry season (June to October) is the prime time for watching wildlife in Ruaha National Park. Animals are easier to spot because the bush thins out and wildlife concentrates around trusted water sources.