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Ruaha National Park


20,226 km2 (7,809 mi2)


1964 (National Park) | 2008 (Expanded)

Best time to visit

June to November

A paradise for predators

One of the most exciting parks in Tanzania’s South: Ruaha National Park is vast and remote without the tourist numbers of some northern parks. At the same time, it’s home to a very high number of predators from lions and leopards to hyenas and even the rare wild hunting dogs. Ruaha makes for exclusive adventures and rewards those who dare to sway off the beaten track. If you want to experience exclusive safari moments while not sharing sightings with other travellers and you have a bit of a budget, Ruaha is your park.

Elephant herd in Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park: The top safari destination in Southern Tanzania

In Ruaha National Park, you can experience classic safari adventures without encountering many other travellers and safari vehicles. Famous for its high number of predators, elephants, and varied landscapes, walking safaris and hot air balloon rides. All you have to do is leave the popular northern circuit behind and venture South!

The allure of a Ruaha safari is easy to grasp: It’s a huge national park, covering diverse landscapes which are home to an equally diverse number of wildlife species. Wildlife sightings are phenomenal here! At the same time there are comparably few accommodations available. This, coupled with its location in the remote southern part of Tanzania, many miles away from the popular Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater means: Very few travellers make it to Ruaha.


What makes Ruaha National Park special?

Excellent wildlife sightings in diverse landscapes with very few tourists around, make for exclusive safari experiences.

Due to its remoteness, Ruaha is very popular with repeat visitors and passionate safari lovers who have been to Tanzania before.

However, if you would like to visit Ruaha, while not missing out on Serengeti and Ngorongoro, you can choose to fly to Ruaha, landing at one of the bush airstrips inside the park.


Vegetation and landscapes

The vegetation in Ruaha National Park differs drastically between flat treeless savannahs, Miombo woodlands, dry bush lands, swamps, and riverine forests. To illustrate, almost 1650 different plant species can be found in the park, creating a one-of-a-kind botanical paradise.

The park is named after the great Ruaha River of which 160 km flow through the park. It is the most distinctive feature of the park and for its residents the most important. Apart from the river the park is well known for its varied scenery – from large open plains to rolling hills, river systems to wetlands and kopjes to mountains.

The Ruaha National Park marks the transition zone where eastern and southern species of flora and fauna overlap. The Great Rift Valley also runs through the park with escarpment walls rising between 50 and 100 m in height. Natural springs associated with the rift valley are scattered throughout the park.

During the dry season, the majestic Ruaha River recedes to nothing more than a few precious waterholes that predators take complete advantage of. Laying silently in wait, knowing that thirst will drive herds of impalas, gazelles, and other antelopes to come drink. Additionally, the riverine vegetation on the shores around the river helps provide enough cover for lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas making it the best hunting ground in the park.

Which animals can you see here?

The Ruaha National Park is famous for having one of the highest concentrations of African elephants in East Africa. Hence, huge numbers of up to 200 are often spotted below giant baobab trees. What’s more, the park is also home to both species of kudu (greater and lesser) as well as the majestic sable and roan antelopes both of which are frequently seen.

Ornithologists are also in for a treat as up to 529 species have been sighted in the park. For example, some of the famous birds include the endemic Ruaha red billed hornbill, kingfishers, sunbirds, black collared lovebirds, ashy starlings, ground hornbills, bateleurs, fish eagles and many more.


Day-time game drives are the main activity in the park and exciting enough if you ask us. However, if you’d like to change your perspective or add a highlight to your trip, you have the option to book a walking safari or a hot air balloon ride – truly special experiences.

Ruaha National Park map


Ruaha is famous for its high number of predators: lions, leopards, hyenas, African hunting dogs & more.

Africa continent

North & South

Across Ruaha, you will find species of both the northern as well as southern hemisphere.

4x4 offroad remoteness

Absolute Remoteness

Far from any major city and even further from the popular northern circuit, Ruaha is very remote.

Elephant herd in Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park is known for its many elephants.

Kichaka Expeditions walking safari sunset Ruaha

Some camps like Kichaka Expeditions offer walking safaris in stunning settings.

Swimming Pool at Asilia Jabali Ridge

Despite its remoteness, camps in the park are exclusive and of the highest standards – like the Asilia Jabali Ridge Camp.

Two female lions drinking from river in Ruaha National Park

Predators such as lions, leopards, wild hunting dogs, and hyenas roam Ruaha National Park in large numbers.

Ruaha River Lodge

You will find remoteness and excellent safari experiences at camps such as the Ruaha River Lodge.


Best time to go to Ruaha National Park

As with many safari destinations, the dry season is the best time to visit Ruaha National Park. Between end of June and November, the mighty Ruaha River is one of the very few water sources for animals – an ideal area for great wildlife sightings. The weather is sunny and warm, but not too hot and the roads are dry and better to navigate. The rains start earlier than on the Northern Circuit and can begin as early as mid-December and last until March. The rainy season is a great time for birders as many migratory birds can be observed. However, during the rainy low season, some accommodations in Ruaha National Park close temporarily, so good planning is essential.

dry season

Dry Season

June to November

Best for wildlife sightings at the Ruaha River.

rainy season

Green Season

December to May

Great for birding, but dense vegetation can make sightings difficult.

Why to go

Exclusive and remote – perfect for photographers & safari lovers

It takes about four hours to drive from Iringa, a town of about 1 million people, to Ruaha National Park. And more than twice as long from the coastal city of Dar es Salaam. While it’s not exactly easy to reach, this is what makes Ruaha National Park special. It has all the ingredients for a perfect, classic safari: excellent wildlife, varied landscapes, personal accommodations. But less the number of vehicles and tourists you may find in the popular northern parks close to Arusha. If you’re a photographer or simply a passionate safari lover looking for an authentic experience, we recommend considering a trip to Ruaha.

Game drive with Asilia Jabali Ridge Camp in Ruaha National Park
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
If Ruaha was on the northern circuit it would be one of the most visited parks in Tanzania. I would encourage any safari lover to venture south and experience this special place. Pure remoteness, excellent camps and lodges, first-class safari experiences!
Arno | Tanzania Travel Expert

Experience Ruaha National Park

Views across Ruaha National Park from a hot air balloon
Hot air balloon rides

See Ruaha from above on a balloon safari.

Walking safari with Ikuka Camp
Walking safaris

Camps such as the Ikuka Safari Camp offer safaris on foot.

Closeup of two birds on zebra back

Undisturbed views for your safari photographs.

Things to do

Safari adventures on foot, in the car and in the skies

The main activity in Ruaha National Park are classic day-time game drives. Since there are very few tourist vehicles, it’s an ideal destination for photographers enjoying undisturbed views. On a walking safari, you will take a stroll amongst the mighty baobab trees accompanied by an experienced guide. On hot air balloon safaris, you glide across magical morning landscapes as the sun begins to rise – a special experience!

  • Hot air balloon rides
  • Walking safaris
  • Photography
Two elephant trunks interlocking

Large herds of African elephants roam the vast and wild Ruaha National Park.

Female lion in Ruaha National Park

Ruaha is a paradise for predators and big cats are often spotted.

African Wild Hunting Dog Tanzania
African Wild Hunting Dogs

The rare African Wild Hunting Dogs need vast expanses of land to thrive – a habitat that Ruaha provides.

A female lesser kudu in Ruaha National Park near Kigela Camp
Greater & Lesser Kudu

Here, you can see both species of kudu – a strikingly beautiful antelope.

A large baobab tree near Kigela Camp
Baobab Trees

The landscape is very diverse, but Baobab trees are a distinct feature of Ruaha National Park.


Fauna and flora of the north and south

The diversity of wildlife in Ruaha is astonishing, making it very popular with repeat safari goers. It is one of the few places where you can see wildlife and plantlife of both the Southern as well as the Northern hemisphere. However, Ruaha is probably best known for its big lion prides and big herds of elephants – two icons of the African bush. Additionally, roan and sable antelope, spotted and striped hyena and more than 530 species of birds call Ruaha home.


Kichaka Zumbua Camp

Kichaka Zumbua Camp

Jabali Ridge

Jabali Ridge

Ruaha River Camp

Ruaha River Lodge

Kigelia Ruaha Camp

Kigelia Ruaha Camp

Kichaka Fly Camping

Kichaka Fly Camping

Ikuka Safari Camp

Ikuka Safari Camp

Jongomero Camp

Jongomero Camp

Mwagusi Safari Camp

Mwagusi Safari Camp

Tandala Tented Camp

Tandala Tented Camp


Ruaha National Park is located in central southern Tanzania. The closest town of about 1 million people is Iringa, 130km from the national park. Southern Tanzania is very remote and less frequently visited than the better-known parks in the northern region of the country. Therefore, the easiest way to get to Ruaha is to fly in. You can choose between chartered and scheduled flights departing from Dar es Salaam. Alternatively, a ten-hour drive – plus a stopover in between – will get you there.

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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