Centrally located in Tanzania, Ruaha National Park is one of the country’s largest parks covering about 22,000 km² (8494 miles²). Established in 1910, the park is part of a larger ecosystem that includes Rungwa Game Reserve, Usangu Game Reserve and other protected areas. It is made up of mountains and escarpments, grassland plains and riverine areas and contains over 1,650 plant species. Because of its unique location at a joining point between the northern and southern hemispheres, where migrant birds and east and south African mammals overlap, it is exceptional in that visitors can experience an abundance of wildlife all in one place. In short, Ruaha National Park is perfect for migration enthusiasts. The park is somewhat remote and is not on a main tourist circuit, offering visitors an opportunity to experience its pristine and unexplored ecosystem. Though there are some natural springs throughout the park, the main water source and “life line” is the Ruaha River, which also serves as a resource to lure game out into the open.
The park is best known for its large population of elephants. To date there are about 10,000 elephants residing within its boundaries. Ruaha National Park also is home to a variety of other mammals including large prides of lions, cheetah, buffalo, zebras and giraffe and a variety of reptiles including crocodiles, agama lizards and both poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes. The park is considered to be a birdwatchers’ paradise with more than 550 species of birds including the purple heron, grey-crowned crane and red-billed hornbill.
Ruaha National Park is easily accessible by car or air travel. By land, the most direct route is from Iringa, which is about 130 km (80 miles) long. There are chartered and commercial flights from Arusha, Dodma, Kigoma and Dar-es-salaam.
The dry season at Ruaha National Park falls between the months of May and December, which is also the best time for viewing large mammals and predators. The wet season, which runs from January to April, is the best time for bird watching and to experience the flourishing vegetation and plant life.