Ruaha National Park

Particularly as a national park, Ruaha is the largest national park both in Tanzania and East Africa wholly.

The Park covers a total area of approximately 20,226 square kilometers (7,809 sq mi) and it is distanced about 130 kilometers (81 mi) west of Iringa.

The Park is a part of the 45,000 square kilometers (17,000 sq mi) Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem, which includes the Rungwa Game Reserve, the Kizigo and Muhesi Game Reserves, and the Mbomipa Wildlife Management Area.

Ruaha National Park was named after the Great Ruaha River, which flows along its southeastern margin and is the focus for game-viewing.

More Exclusiveness about the Park

Ruaha National Park has a bimodal pattern of rain forest; the short rainfall season begins November to February, well as the long season is between March and April.

Between months of June to October is when Ruaha receives its dry season, which is the best time to visit the Park.

It is actually one of Tanzania birds’ paradise with more than 571species some of which are known to be migrants from within and outside Africa, and furthermore the Park is believed to have high concentration of elephants than any other National Park in East Africa.

The park is characterized by a semi-arid type of vegetation, baobab trees, Acacia and other species. There are over 1,650 plant species that have been identified.

Accessibility of the Ruaha

The park can be reached by car on a dirt road from Iringa and there are two airstrips – Msembe airstrip at Msembe (park headquarters), and Jongomeru Airstrip, near the Jongomeru Ranger Post.

It can also be accessed by air as there are both scheduled and chartered flights into the park mainly from Arusha, Dodoma, Kigoma and Dar-es-salaam. The road into the park is passable throughout the year.

Attractions in the Park

More than 571 species of birds have been recorded in the park, including; hornbills and many migratory birds which always visit the park.

Other noted animals to spot in this park are East African cheetahs, lions, African leopards, endangered wild dogs, spotted hyenas, giraffes, hippos, zebras, impalas, elands, jackals, bat eared foxes, African buffaloes, and sable antelopes.

The Park also inhabits a variety of mammals, including; Kudus, Sable and Roan antelopes which can best be spotted in the Miombo woodland.

The Park is also an anchorage to a number of reptiles and amphibians, such as; crocodiles, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, monitor lizards, agama lizards and frogs.

Accommodations in Ruaha National Park

There is a wide selection of accommodation in or near the park though the only lodge inside the park is the Ruaha River Lodge. There are also permanent and seasonal tented camps inside the park.

There are also many park-operated public and special campsites, a hostel, self-catering bandas, and cottages. Just /outside the park boundaries are several accommodation facilities.

Below are some of the accommodations to choose from whenever you visit Ruaha National Park:

Jongomero Camp

Blending in beautifully with its surroundings, the camp is tucked below a dappled riverine canopy on the banks of the Jongomero sand river, a natural pathway for animals in search of water.

Positioned on one of the meanders, with sweeping views of the bank beyond, lies the camp bar, lounge and restaurant; which comprises an open wooden terrace shaded by a high thatched roof and filled with sumptuous sofas and striking furniture made of reclaimed dhow wood.

Accommodation at Jongomero comprises of eight large and well-appointed tented suites, built on raised wooden platforms, under enormous thatched roofs that also encompass a spacious private instant veranda which overlooks the riverbed.

Snuggle under warming quilts in an eight-foot wide dhow wood emperor bed; fall asleep to the hum of Africa beyond the canvas; and wake up to the morning tea tray and animals ambling past your mosquito net windows.  Jongomero is the quintessence of luxury in the wilds.

Jongomero is an inviting spot to relax with a cup of tea whilst leafing through one of the camp library’s reference books, or socialize with camp managers and fellow guests around the bar with an ice-cold drink in hand.

Alternatively, laze around the pool on warm days, and enjoy the sights and sounds of being so close to nature.

Kigelia Camp

Kigelia Camp is one of Ruaha’s best camps for game-viewing, offering a truly wild yet luxurious experience. Far from the crowds, in the heart of unspoilt Africa, this remote eco-camp is the perfect spot from which to explore the alluring Ruaha National Park.

Kigelia Camp is set on the banks of the Ifuguru Sand River amongst thick bush, which allows great privacy and a fantastic viewing position. The presence of the camp is kept light and low-impact, and yet it’s very personal and the attention to detail is outstanding.

The six meru-style tents set beneath the shade of the Sausage Trees, Kigelia Africana, from which the camp derived its name, are spacious and charming. The tents are understated and rustic in appearance, but without compromising on the luxury.

Well-furnished with locally crafted furniture, all feature an en-suite with safari-style bucket shower, solar lighting and a large veranda. Each has a Mokuti thatch roof to keep it cool during the hotter months.

Like all bush camps, there is the essential sundowner time around the campfire after a full day of thrilling game viewing, where guests can unwind and relax on the edge of the riverbed.

Meals are taken communally; the three-course dinner is served in the mess-like dining tent or, better still, under the stars. Kigelia Camp is seasonal, usually being set out in the park from June until March – which is when game viewing in the Park is at its peak.

Kwihala Camp

Set in Tanzania’s iconic Ruaha National Park, this small frontier-style camp provides exceptional access to the park’s huge populations of big cats, buffaloes and elephants.

Relatively unexplored, Ruaha is one of the largest national parks in Africa, ensuring a true wilderness experience.

Kwihala is an intimate six-bedroom camp where simple excellence is the order of the day. The adventurous will relish the remarkable concentration of wildlife roaming this diverse landscape, which ranges from baobab trees and granite kopjes to open plains with cooling rivers and woodland valleys.

With the option of bush walks and night drives with the highly knowledgeable guides, safari doesn’t get better than this.

Sleep under canvas in one of Kwihala’s six Art Deco-style tents, each furnished in simple but elegant safari style, with comfortable en-suite bathrooms with flushing toilet and safari bucket shower (cool water is available during the heat of the day, and hot water on request at any time).

Large gauze-screened windows allow the beauty of the surroundings to take centre stage, and shaded private verandas provide the perfect spot to watch the game as it passes through camp.

Mwagusi Safari Camp

This well-established camp was started in 1987 and is an expression of the unwavering love and passion of its owner Chris Fox for the Tanzanian bush, its wildlife and its people.

Mwagusi Safari Camp offers a fully en-suite tented experience with a unique and naturally-inspired design that reflects understated safari elegance.

Recline in the comfort of your private verandah and witness the pristine wilderness undisturbed. Enjoy excellent and attentive service in a warm and peaceful atmosphere.

Almost all of the camp is built from natural materials such as grass thatch, timber, drift wood, stones and reeds, allowing the camp to be in perfect balance and harmony with its surroundings.

Each “banda” (meaning ‘temporary shelter’) consists of a large spacious tent sheltered by a cooling thatch roof and set on a polished red floor. Each banda has en-suite facilities with flushing toilet, an unlimited supply of hot water, shower, sink, shelving, a large mirror and good night-time lighting.

Built using stones, driftwood and bones; the bathroom is an area of interesting, unique and original design. Thick comfortable towels and locally produced clove soap are provided.

An efficient same-day laundry service that is free of charge is offered. The tented living area includes dressing table and mirror, trunk for storage, comfortable beds with high-density mattresses, safari style chairs and bedside tables for night-time reading.

All the “bandas” are built into the sandy banks of the Mwagusi River providing their own private and secluded view.

Each has large covered verandah, with a comfortable cushioned seating area and swinging hammock, making this the perfect place to relax and view the passing wildlife.

Ruaha Hilltop Lodge

Ruaha Hilltop Lodge is built on a hill with a wonderful panoramic view. There are many types of different birds, wild flowers, butterflies and trees that can be seen nearby. You are most welcome at Ruaha Hilltop Lodge for quality affordable accommodation and safari.

The luxury self contained cottages are very comfortable and private, each with its own balcony with a beautiful view.  Water at the lodge is heated by solar power. The lodge has a 24 hours’ electricity, solar powered as well. Wi-Fi is also available at the lodge.

The reception, dining room and bar are all under one roof, with a gallery to enjoy the spectacular African sunrise and sunset. Giraffes, elephants and baboons and kudus can sometimes be glimpsed not far way.

The lodge also boasts an own Curio Shop. You can find some pictures downwards and its experienced chefs provide both continental and Tanzanian cuisine, using fresh products from the local area. The bar is well stocked and it also serves fresh juice and bakes its own bread.

Ruaha River Lodge

Built out of local stone and thatch, the lodge is built around natural kopjes and capitalizes on its exceptional position on a bend in the river. Ruaha River lodge is the only ‘lodge’ inside the Ruaha National Park, consisting of 24 stone chalets stretching along the river bank.

Each chalet has stunning views from a large veranda out the front, while the huge interiors feature a sitting area, writing desk and either twin or double beds. At the rear of each chalet is a large bathroom decorated with found timber, a shower and double basins.

The Lodge has a banda with ramp access close to the riverside dining room.  The bathrooms are large with wide doorway and a plastic chair can be provided for the shower.  There are no other specific adaptations, but staff is always on hand to help in any way required.

Ikuka Safari Camp

Set up high on the Ikuka escarpment overlooking the Mwagusi River, the camp’s central communal area comprises of a well stocked bar, a comfortable lounge area, an airy dining space, a swimming pool with a lounging deck and an upstairs chill-out library area.

The light, contemporary and airy communal spaces are all intimately designed to make you feel at home and relaxed during your stay.

The camp comprises of 7 spacious tents and each of them has been incorporated onto the Ikuka escarpment with fantastic views over Ruaha National Park.

The interiors comprise of white quartz from the escarpment itself along with other locally and sustainable sourced materials.

The rooms have 24 hour electricity, fans and hot water as well as large super-king beds, a spacious bathroom area and a lounge area complete with comfortable leather seating leading out onto large private balconies. There is also 1 family room, perfect for couples or families.