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Ruaha National Park

Ruaha NP

Overview

Wildlife

Birds

Best Time To Visit

Weather & Climate

Getting There

Malaria & Safety

Overview – Ruaha NP
Ruaha National Park holds a special place in the hearts of many Africa enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. Offering a perfect blend of untamed wilderness and rich biodiversity, Ruaha stands out as a top safari destination. Its rugged charm is reflected not only in its vast expanses of unspoiled bush but also in its selection of intimate accommodation options. From secluded rustic lodges to charming tented camps, Ruaha offers a unique safari experience spread across its sprawling landscape.
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Best Time To Go
June to October is the prime time for wildlife viewing.
High Season
Between June and October, Ruaha remains relatively uncrowded.
Size
20,220km² / 7,807mi²
Altitude
721-1,863m / 2,365-6,112ft
Pros & Cons
Peak Wildlife Encounters in Late Dry Season
Prime Opportunities for Lion Watching
Premier Destination for Wild Dog Encounters
Unique Antelope Species: Discovering Greater Kudu, Roan, and Sable
Secluded Serenity: An Exclusive Retreat
Tanzania's Runner-Up: Exploring the Second-Largest National Park
Affordable Alternatives: Exploring Budget-Conscious Options
Wet Season Wanderings: The Scattered Wildlife Safari
Seasonal Closure: Lodges Shut Down from March to May
Wildlife
Ruaha’s predator spectacle is unparalleled. Renowned for its sizable lion prides and thriving wild dog community, the park offers exceptional predator encounters. While lions assert their territories prominently, the elusive wild dogs, roaming across expansive territories, present a captivating challenge for sightings, especially during denning periods. Additionally, the park boasts impressive elephant populations and diverse antelope species, further enriching the wildlife experience.
Scenery
Ruaha’s rugged terrain is dominated by the majestic Great Ruaha River, complemented by its sandy tributaries. Beyond the riverbanks, the landscape transitions into a mosaic of miombo woodland, scattered with savannah grasslands, iconic baobab trees, and rocky formations. This diverse environment creates a captivating backdrop for exploring the park’s untamed wilderness.
Weather & Climate
Situated near the equator, Ruaha experiences relatively stable temperatures throughout the year. During the Dry season, from May to October, the area is at its coolest, with average afternoon temperatures hovering around 27°C/81°F. Conversely, the Wet season, spanning from November to April, brings hot and humid conditions, although rainfall tends to be intermittent rather than prolonged.
Best Time To Visit
During the Dry season, from May to October, Ruaha experiences milder temperatures, offering a more comfortable climate for exploration. This period coincides with heightened wildlife activity, as animals are drawn to the Great Ruaha River, facilitating easier sightings. Conversely, the Wet season, characterized by increased humidity, can bring uncomfortably hot conditions. Additionally, some roads may become impassable due to rainfall, limiting access to certain areas of the park.
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​Wildlife & Animals – Ruaha NP

Ruaha National Park stands as an untouched wilderness renowned for its abundant elephant population. Apart from rhinoceroses, nearly all prominent safari animals are readily observable within its borders. The park is home to expansive prides of lions, occasionally numbering over 20 individuals, which freely traverse the terrain. Even buffaloes, typically considered formidable prey, are not exempt from the park’s predator-prey dynamics.

Black Rhino
Lion
Leopard
Cheetah
Hyena
Wild Dog
Wildebeest
Zebra
Buffalo
Hippo
Giraffe
Elephant
Wildlife Highlights

Ruaha National Park proudly boasts the wild dog as its flagship species. Few destinations offer such excellent opportunities to observe these captivating pack animals, making Ruaha one of the finest. Moreover, the park hosts the largest congregation of greater kudu in East Africa, adding to its allure. Rare antelope species like the lesser kudu, roan, and sable antelope also find refuge within Ruaha’s boundaries, enriching the park’s biodiversity.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

From June to October, which marks the middle and end of the Dry season, stands out as the prime period for wildlife observation in Ruaha National Park. During this timeframe, spotting wildlife becomes notably easier due to the sparse vegetation, and animals tend to congregate around the Great Ruaha River and its tributaries. Notably, the male greater kudu is most prominent in June, coinciding with their breeding season. Moreover, wildlife enthusiasts have an enhanced chance of encountering wild dogs during their denning season, which typically spans from June to August.

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Wildlife Photos
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​Birds – Ruaha NP
Ruaha National Park boasts an extensive bird checklist, boasting over 450 species. This rich avian diversity is attributed to Ruaha’s transitional location between the acacia savannah of East Africa and the miombo woodland belt of southern Africa. Among its avian inhabitants is the crested barbet, whose distinctive trilling is a quintessential sound of the southern bush. Additionally, Ruaha is home to central Tanzanian endemics like the yellow-collared lovebird and ashy starling. Migratory birds also grace the park from November to April, adding further allure to its birding experience.

Notable Birds in Ruaha NP

Collared palm-thrush
common
African fish eagle
common
Tanzanian red-billed hornbill
common
Bateleur
common
Ashy starling
common
Best Time for Bird Watching

The birdlife in Ruaha offers a rewarding experience throughout the year, but it reaches its pinnacle from November to April when Palearctic and intra-African migrants grace the skies. During this period, resident bird species are actively nesting and flaunt their vibrant breeding plumage. For optimal wildlife viewing, the ideal time to visit the park is from June to October, marking the middle and end of the Dry season.

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Facts & Figures

Bird Species

450+

Migratory Birds

Nov to Apr

Best Time To Visit – Ruaha NP

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

During the middle and end of the Dry season, spanning from June to October, Ruaha National Park unveils its prime wildlife viewing opportunities. This period offers optimal conditions for spotting animals as the vegetation thins out, making wildlife more conspicuous. The Great Ruaha River and its tributaries become focal points where a myriad of wildlife congregates, enhancing the chances of memorable encounters with the park’s diverse fauna.
Best Time
From June to October, it's the best period for observing wildlife.
High Season
From June to October, Ruaha is seldom crowded.
Low Season
In April and May, many lodges are closed, particularly from March through May.
Best Weather
Between June and October, rainfall is exceptionally rare.
Worst Weather
December to March (The most rain)
May to October – Dry Season
Clearer Views and Animal Congregation at Water Sources
Radiant Skies: Rain-Free Days
Temperate Comfort: Reduced Heat and Humidity
Arid Atmosphere: Dusty and Dry Conditions
November to April – Wet Season
Verdant Vistas: Lush and Green Landscapes
Avian Extravaganza: Prime Birdwatching Amidst Migration
Challenging Trails: Impassable Roads at Times
Wet Season Woes: Diminished Wildlife Viewing
Sultry Conditions: Hot and Humid Atmosphere
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Wildlife Photos
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Weather & Climate – Ruaha NP
Ruaha National Park experiences a hot and arid climate characterized by minimal variation in temperatures throughout the year. The warmest months typically span from October to March, while the coolest temperatures are usually encountered between June and August. The Dry season dominates the landscape from May to October, offering clear skies and minimal rainfall. Conversely, Ruaha witnesses an extended Wet season extending from November to April, punctuated by afternoon thunderstorms. However, sustained rainfall lasting the entire day is uncommon during this period.
Dry Season – May to October

During the Dry season in May through September, Ruaha National Park offers clear blue skies and minimal rainfall. As the season progresses, the environment becomes increasingly dry and dusty. Temperatures during this period range from around 26°C/79°F during the day to 14°C/57°F at night.

 

In October, nearing the end of the Dry season, temperatures rise to an average of 29°C/84°F.

Wet Season – November to April

The Wet season in Ruaha National Park, typically from November to April, brings hot and humid conditions. Daytime temperatures hover around 29°C/84°F, while nighttime temperatures drop to about 17°C/63°F.

 

In November and December, rainfall begins, often in the form of afternoon showers, with temperatures peaking before the rain.

 

January through March continues with occasional afternoon showers, though unlikely to last all day. April marks the end of the Wet season, with rainfall decreasing, and temperatures averaging around 28°C/82°F during the day and 16°C/61°F at night.

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Ruaha National Park
Ruaha NP Photos
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​Getting There – Ruaha NP

Safaris to Ruaha National Park often commence from Dar es Salaam, with Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) serving as the primary point of entry. Upon arrival, we typically organize airport pickup, transfer to accommodations, and arrange further transportation, whether by air or road, as part of your tour package.

 

The journey from Dar es Salaam to Ruaha covers approximately 600km/373mi and typically requires at least 10 hours*, traversing dusty and bumpy roads. Many travelers opt to break up the journey with a stopover at Mikumi National Park, located about 320km/200mi from Ruaha, with a travel time of roughly 5 hours*.

*Please note that driving times are approximate and subject to potential delays.
Main Park Map
Tanzania Travel Guide Map
Airlines & Ticket Prices

Kindly consult Skyscanner to explore available airlines providing flights to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) and to obtain information on ticket prices.

Domestic Flights

To reach Ruaha National Park, the most straightforward method involves taking a direct flight from Dar es Salaam. These flights can be either scheduled services or private charters that land at one of the airstrips within the park. Additionally, there is a network of flights linking the various parks in the Southern safari circuit, ensuring smooth travel between each location. For those coming from the North, specifically from Arusha town — a hub for Northern safari adventures — flights are readily available as well.

 

A few of the notable airlines providing these services include

Coastal Aviation

Safari Air Link

Auric Air

Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements

For detailed information on passport, visa, vaccination, and other prerequisites for entry into Tanzania, we encourage you to consult our FAQ section on the Tanzania page. This resource is designed to equip you with the necessary knowledge to ensure a seamless preparation process for your visit.

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​Malaria & Safety – Ruaha NP
Safety

In our assessment, journeying to Ruaha National Park is considered highly secure. The occurrence of crime within the national parks and reserves of Tanzania is notably low. Instances of safety concerns tend to arise more frequently in urban settings, prompting the suggestion for standard safety measures while exploring cities and towns during your travels. For further guidance on urban safety, please refer to the ‘Cities & Urban Areas: Safety Precautions’ section below. Moreover, if your visit is part of an organized tour, rest assured that your guide will prioritize your well-being throughout the safari adventure.

Malaria & Vaccinations

For those planning to visit Ruaha, it’s wise to consider antimalarial medication as a precaution. Additionally, the use of mosquito repellent, especially formulas that contain DEET, is strongly advised to enhance protection. To further guard against mosquito bites, wearing long pants and closed-toe shoes in the evenings is recommended. Before embarking on your journey, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider or a local travel health clinic to discuss any necessary vaccinations.

Wildlife Viewing

Observing wildlife is incredibly safe, provided that you adhere to the park’s regulations and heed your guide’s recommendations. For further safety measures, please refer to the ‘Wildlife Viewing Safety Precautions’ outlined below. These additional guidelines are designed to ensure your experience is both enjoyable and secure.

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Photo Gallery of Ruaha National Park

Map of Ruaha National Park

Photo Gallery of Ruaha National Park

Main Park Map

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