The Safari exceeded Sue’s and my expectations and has been a continuous talking point since our return.
John and Suzanne Taylor
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is second only to Katavi National Park in its aura of untrammelled wilderness, but far more accessible, Ruaha protects a vast tract of the rugged, semi-arid bush country that characterises central Tanzania. Its lifeblood is the Great Ruaha River, which courses along the eastern boundary in a flooded torrent during the height of the rains, but dwindling thereafter to a scattering of precious pools.
The game viewing starts the moment the plane touches down. A giraffe races beside the airstrip, all legs and neck, yet oddly elegant in its awkwardness. A line of zebras parades across the runway in the giraffe’s wake.
In the distance, beneath a bulbous baobab tree, a few representatives of Ruaha’s 10,000 elephants – the largest population of any East African national park, form a protective huddle around their young.
Ruaha National Park has a fine network of game-viewing roads following the Great Ruaha River and its seasonal tributaries, where , during the dry season, impala, waterbuck and other antelopes risk their life for a sip of life-sustaining water. The risk is considerable: not only from the prides of 20-plus lion that lord over the savannah, but also from the cheetahs that stalk the open grassland and the leopards that lurk in tangled riverine thickets. This impressive array of large predators is boosted by both striped and spotted hyena, as well as several conspicuous packs of the highly endangered African wild dog
Ruaha’s unusually high diversity of antelope is a function of its location, which is transitional to the acacia savannah of East Africa and the miombo woodland belt of Southern Africa. Grant’s gazelle and lesser kudu occur here at the very south of their range, alongside the miombo-associated sable and roan antelope, and one of East Africa’s largest populations of greater kudu, the park emblem, distinguished by the male’s magnificent corkscrew horns. a similar duality is noted in the spectacular birdlife.
Direct connections by air from Zanzibar means a few days in atmospheric Stone Town or on a white sand beach make for relaxed ending to an exciting Safari holiday.
Ruaha National Park also combines very well in a Southern Safari Circuit with Selous Game Reserve and Katavi National Park in the South West or with some chimpanzee trekking in Mahale Mountains on Lake Tanganyika.
The best time to visit Ruaha National Park is in the dry Season from late May to December.