Ruaha National Park Tanzania

Ruaha National Park Tanzania

Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania. It covers an area of about 13,000 square kilometers.

It is located in the middle of Tanzania about 130 kilometers from Iringa. The park is part of a more extensive ecosystem, which includes Rungwe 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 571 species and some of them are known to be migrants from within and outside Africa.

Ruaha is believed to have a 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.

One of Tanzania’s best-kept (and more affordable) secrets, Ruaha is a particularly good complement and contrast to the Selous, although it would be a great addition to any safari to Tanzania The lion viewing around the Mwagusi area is especially rewarding and general predator concentrations across the park are better than many of the other parks in the country.  Overall it is an absolutely excellent safari destination.

Located at the heart of Tanzania, Ruaha is the ‘other park’ on the Southern circuit.  Ruaha’s relative inaccessibility means it gets far fewer tourists than the Selous and less than any comparable park in the Northern circuit.  The rewards of traveling this far are a wild landscape with baobab studded hills and rocky escarpments, with superb wildlife; Ruaha safaris have reliably exciting predator concentrations, it is home to 10% of the world’s lion population, contains one of four cheetah populations in East Africa and has the third-largest wild dog population in the world. This is accompanied by huge elephant and buffalo herds and a cross-over of the game from southern and eastern Africa.

Tanzania’s largest National Park, Ruaha is a wild and more remote park than its southern neighbor Selous Game Reserve and ultimately has the better wildlife, albeit without boating safaris.  We love this park! Safaris here are some of the best you will find in the country and are superb value for money. It is a wild and authentic environment that remains relatively untouched.

Size of Ruaha National Park Tanzania

Ruaha National Park is a national park in Tanzania. The addition of the Usangu Game Reserve and other important wetlands to the park in 2008 increased its size to about 20,226 km², making it the largest protected area in Tanzania and East Africa.

Location of Ruaha National Park Tanzania

Ruaha National Park is about 130 kilometers west of Iringa town in south-central Tanzania.

How to get to Ruaha National Park Tanzania

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 a 130km drive from Iringa town and 625km from Dar-es-salaam city.
The road into the park is passable throughout the year.

Things to do in Ruaha National Park

Bird watching

Avid bird-watchers will not be disappointed on an African safari! Ruaha is home to over 400 bird species and is very quiet means more bird species are recorded.


Explore the aquatic wildlife by boat or canoe this is one of the classic African safari experiences you will have while visiting Ruaha.


A bushwalk on safari is an excellent way to stretch the legs and to get up close to nature.

Cultural visits

There are historical sites in Ruaha that have a rich cultural background of the people living around the park so interested clients can take a trip to discover the culture

Fishing safaris in Ruaha National Park

The main feature of the park is the Ruaha River, which rises in the swamps to the south and sweeps north and eastward through the park. Its deep pools, gorges, and swirling rapids make for excellent fishing. The River features large numbers of hippos and crocodiles as well as the clawless otter.

Game drives

Game drives in open safari cars are one of the main activities in the park as you will be driving in cycles in search of African big game

Night drives

Exceptional game drives in search of nocturnal wildlife is a great safari experience in Ruaha National Park


During sunrise and set with the water body in the area Ruaha is one of the extraordinary destinations for photography in Tanzania.

When to visit Ruaha National Park Tanzania

Ruaha National Park is a typical dry season park, with the best time to see larger mammals and predators being between mid-May and December. As water becomes scarce toward the end of the dry season, the game gathers around available water sources, offering unbeatable game viewing opportunities.

Where to stay in Ruaha National Park Tanzania


Kigelia is the least commercial product in Ruaha and offers a unique product.  Owned and run by Nomad, this eco-focused camp blends in extremely well with its environment, aided by very good 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 but no other camp, save for Kichaka, offers such a feeling of wilderness and a style of safari that is reminiscent of the early colonial explorers.

Kwihala Camp

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 a very special 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 banks of the Ruaha River and the backdrop with the rolling hills is great.  The only drawback is that the lodge is quite big and isn’t and build-out of brick and stone. But that aside, it offers a great location and exceptional value. We do believe that a little extra money to stay at Mdonya Old River Camp is worth the upgrade for a better all-around experience.

Ikuka camp

Situated on top of an incredible rocky escarpment with the best views of Ruaha National Park, Ikuka is a lodge that caters to everyone. From larger groups to honeymooners, this beautiful family-run lodge is made of love and care and centered on making dreams a reality. Behind all great lodges are great people;  Mark who was born and brought up in the Ruaha area is the manager and owner of the camp. 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.

Kichaka camp

Set up by Andrew ‘Moil’ 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.

Jabali ridge

A small and luxurious lodge with eight suites in a fantastic location; Jabali Ridge really stands out as a beautiful lodge in an ideal spot for viewing the amazing Ruaha wildlife.

Jongomero camp

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 as well as offering fantastic service, exceptional cuisine, and guiding so good it borders on 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.


Game drives in Ruaha national park
Sport fishing on Rufigi River
Cultural visits in Ruaha national park
Walking safaris in Ruaha national park
Canoeing on Rufigi River
Birding safaris in Ruaha national park


How to get to Arusha national park


4 Days Arusha national park safari
5 Days Luxury Ruaha national park safari
7 Days Fly-in Ruaha and River Rufigi Fishing safari


Best time to visit Ruaha national park


Nomad Kigelia Camp
Kilimatonge camp
Kwihala Camp
Ruaha River Lodge
Kichaka camp


Great Wildebeest Migration

Great Wildebeest Migration

Gorilla Tracking

Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda

Victoria Falls

Thunderous Victoria Falls

Uganda gorilla fly-in

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda