Ruaha National Park | Background Info

Situated right in the centre of Tanzania, Ruaha National Park covers over 20,000km² of land. It is a fascinating, game-rich park that includes the Zambian miombo woodlands and the Tanzanian and Kenyan savannahs. This diversity of habitats hosts an equally diverse range of animals. Due to its vast size, and the fact that there are not many camps in the park, Ruaha is known as one of Tanzania's best-kept secret safari spots, promising unhurried, uncrowded game viewing.

The park was established in 1910 by the Germans and was initially called Saba Game Reserve. In the late 1940s, the British took over, renaming it Rungwa Game Reserve. In 1964, it was officially renamed Ruaha National Park, after the Ruaha River. Ruvaha in the local Hehe language means 'river'. The Usangu Wildlife Management Area was included as part of the park in 2008.

Experience Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park Highlights

Ruaha is known for its huge elephant population (estimated at over 10,000) and healthy populations of predators. Especially notable, are the large prides of lion (up to 20-strong), leopard and cheetah.

With over 500 species of bird (both seasonal and permanent), Ruaha is a birdwatcher's paradise. Again, the variety of birds is spectacular, including waterbirds and raptors from both the south and north.

Research conducted by the Ruaha Carnivore Project, established in 2009, showed that the park is home to a whopping 10 percent of Africa’s lions, including large prides with 20 or more members. This land also supports one of only four East African cheetah populations with more than 200 adults, and boasts the world’s third-largest population of endangered African wild dogs. Ruaha is also an excellent destination for leopard and spotted hyena sightings, while jackals and bat-eared foxes are relatively common, as well.

Of course, all these predators have to eat, and Ruaha has an extensive menu for them to choose from. Antelope species are varied and abundant, including waterbuck, kudu, roan, and sable.

Wildlife Activities

Visitors come to Ruaha National Park primarily to spot wildlife, and there are several different ways to go about it. The park’s camps and lodges offer guided game drives and night drives, giving you the benefit of an experienced ranger who knows which areas yield the best sightings. You can also head out on a self-drive around the park during daylight hours. This is an exciting option for adventurers who like to explore independently.

Walking safaris are also popular in Ruaha, whether you choose to sign up for one through your lodge or with the Tanzanian Parks service. The latter offers guided day hikes that last from two to four hours, in addition to the multi-day Kichaka to Kidabaga route. You can also view the animals and landscape from the air by embarking on a hot air balloon safari.

Back on the ground, enjoy bush meals organized by your lodge or guided safari trip, go birdwatching, or visit cultural and historical sights, like the Nyanywa rock paintings, the natural pillars at Isimila, and a trip to the Mkwawa Museum.

Ruaha National Park, with its few camps, offers visitors an uncrowded glimpse of untouched Africa, with its huge diversity of game, birds and landscapes. It's an area known for its incredible animal sightings, including large herds of elephant and plenty of predators.


Ruaha National Park, another pristine wilderness located in the south-central part of the country, is considered Tanzania’s best-kept safari secret. Spanning more than 7,800 square miles, Ruaha is the largest national park in East Africa. The park is named for the Great Ruaha River, which flows along its southeast border and provides a vital source of water for animals during the dry season.

Its habitats range from rolling hills to open grasslands, and from groves of baobab trees to dense miombo and acacia woodlands. These pristine environments provide a home to an incredible variety of wildlife, making Ruaha a perfect destination for dedicated safari-goers wanting to escape the crowds and experience untamed Africa.

ruaha national parkJabali Lodge Infinity Pool - Ruaha National Park