RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania. It covers an area of about 13,000 square kilometres. It is located in the middle of Tanzania about 130 kilometres from Iringa. The park is part of a more extensive ecosystem, which includes Rungwa Game Reserve, Usangu Game Reserve, and several other protected areas. The name of the park is derived from the Great Ruaha River, which flows along its South-Eastern margin and is the focus for game-viewing. The park can be reached by car via Iringa and there is an airstrip at Msembe, park headquarters. Ruaha National Park has a bimodal pattern of rain forest; the short rainfall season begins November to February, while the long season is between March and April. The park experiences its dry season between June and October. The park is one of the Tanzania birds’ paradise with more than 571species and some of them are known to be migrants from within and outside Africa. Ruaha is believed to have high concentration of elephants than any National Park in East Africa. It is also a place where, magnificent mammals like Kudu, Sable and Roan antelopes can easily be spotted in Miombo woodland. The park is also a habitat for endangered wild dogs. Other animals in the park include lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, elands, impala, bat eared foxes and Jackals.
apart from large animals, the park also harbors a number of reptiles and amphibians such as crocodiles, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, monitor lizards, agama lizards and frogs,The park is characterized by semi-arid type of vegetation, baobab trees, Acacia and other species. There are over 1,650 plant species that have been identified.
Established in 1910 as a Game Reserve, Ruaha was gazetted a National Park in 1964. The park, covering an area of 20,226 square km, is the largest in Tanzania and second largest in Africa. Ruaha is located 125 km west of Iringa town.
The park formerly was known for its large elephant population,numbering 34,000 in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem in 2009 but only 15,836 (plus or minus 4,759) in 2015. More than 571 species of birds have been identified in the park. Among the resident species are hornbills. Many migratory birds visit the park. Other noted animals found in this park are cheetah, African leopard, lion (Africa’s second largest population, representing 10 percent of the world population), African wild dog (third largest population in the world), spotted hyena, giraffe, hippopotamus, African buffalo, and sable antelope. The best times to visit for predators and large mammals is during the dry season (May–December) and for birds and flowers, during the wet season (January–April).
How to get there?
By Air-There are both scheduled and chartered flights into the park mainly from Arusha, Dodoma, Kigoma and Dar-es-salaam. Park’s airstrips are located at Msembe and Jongomero
By road-It is about 130km drive from Iringa town and 625km from Dar-es-salaam city. The road into the park is passable throughout the year. By road: 625 km from Dar es Salaam city, approximately 10 hrs drive, 125 km from Iringa, about 3hrs drive on rough road. By Air: The Park is also reachable by scheduled and chartered flights from either Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Zanzibar, Dodoma or any other airport in Tanzania.
Game drive – This activity is conducted from 0630 – 1830 HRS, no additional fee for this activity apart from conservation fee. Four wheel (4X4) drive vehicles are recommended. Walking safari -Short walking safari: Designated routes are: Msembe to Ibuguziwa(4.8 km) 3hrs, Nyamakuyu to Ibuguziwa (3.6 km) 2.30 hrs, Kiganga kopjes to Mwagusi (5.4 km) 3.30hrs, R14 to Kimilamatonge peak (2.8 km) 2hrs and Mwagusi to near Sokwe (9.1 km) 4hrs. Long walking safari: Designated route is Kichaka to Kidabaga (33.5 km) 6 to 8 days