Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park with no doubt is one of the parks many tourists will ignore when they want to visit Tanzania, many will wish to do their safari in the north of Tanzania which includes Serengeti and Ngorongoro and forget some of the National Park in the like Ruaha and Selous.

In this writing, you will be able to understand why you should not only visit Serengeti and Ngorongoro for a safari in Tanzania instead think of southern part as well.

The National Parks in the south of Tanzania have their own advantage of visiting which makes them more unique.

Compare to other Northern circuits National Park :

Ruaha, Selous, and Mikumi both have less traffic of tourist and gives someone more room to explore the nature into a close experience while enjoying the breath-taking landscapes. Compare to Serengeti and Ngorongoro, these parks are more into nature and they make you feel out of the world, it gives more meaning when you find yourself into nature with a private game safari exploring and see no any close trucks or other tourists.

Southern Tanzania National parks

These parks will give you more experience and more private African safari. But today we will focus on Ruaha National Park and see few highlights about it.

Regardless of distance, these Southern Parks in Tanzania have the best packages for honeymooner and family safaris, these parks will give you the quietness of the natures and the truly African safari style.

Ruaha National Park Highlights:

Let us take time to study this amazing Ruaha national park which is one of the few Tanzania’s famous wilderness areas where one can have a rare experience of game viewing spiced up by the fascinating landscape. The park is rich in plants and animals such as Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) which can not be found in any other national park. The park boasts of her almost untouched and unexplored ecosystem, making visitors’ safari experience very unique.

ruaha national park

The Great Ruaha River as other rivers like Mwagusi, Jongomero, and Mzombe save as the lifeline of the park. During the dry season, these rivers become mostly the main source of water for wildlife. There are few natural springs saving the same purpose.

In the pick of the dry season, elephants obtain water from dry sand rivers using their front feet and trunks. The remaining waterfalls along the Great Ruaha River are also important habitat for hippopotamus, fish, and crocodiles.

CLIMATE:

Ruaha National Park has a bimodal pattern of rainforest; the short rainfall season begins November to February, while the long season is between March and April. The annual mean rainfall ranges between 500mm-800mm with the average annual temperature of about 280c. The park experiences its dry season between June and October when the temperature at Msembe headquarter reaches 350c.

PARK HISTORY:

The park history dates back to 1910 when it was gazetted Saba Game Reserve by Germany then the name was changed by British to Rungwa Game reserve in 1946. In 1964 the southern portion of the Game was gazetted as Ruaha national park and in 1974 a small section of South Eastern part of the Great Ruaha River was incorporated into the park. The name “Ruaha” originates from the Hehe word “Ruaha”, which means “river”.

PARKS SIGNIFICANCE:

Ruaha National Park has a high diversity of plants and animals including elephants, buffalos, antelopes and some of the rare and endangered species like wild dogs. The park serves as water shade both for wildlife and human being. This makes it be economically significant as it supports agricultural activities downstream and contributes to hydroelectric power (HEP) for the country at Mtera and Kidatu dams.

TOURISM ATTRACTIONS:

Birds:

The park is one of the Tanzania birds’ paradise with more than 571species and some of them are known to be migrants from within and outside Africa. Migrating species from Europe, Asia, Australian rim and Madagascar have been recorded in the park. Species of interest in the park include Ruaha red-billed hornbill (Tokus ruahae) which is dominant in the area. The recently annexed wetland, the Usangu basin is one of the country’s important bird area (IBA) as recognized by Birdlife International. Though birds can be seen all the year around, the best time for bird watching is during the wet season.

ruaha national park

 

Animals:

Ruaha is believed to have high concentration of elephants than any national park in East Africa. It is also a place where, magnificent mammals like Kudu (both Greater and Lesser), Sable and Roan antelopes can easily be spotted in Miombo woodland. The male Kudu have beautiful spiraled horns while male Sable antelope have impressive curved horns. The park is also a habitat for endangered wild dogs. Other animals in the park include lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, elands, impala, bat eared foxes and Jackals.

serengeti migration

 

Reptiles and Amphibians:

Apart from large animals, the park also harbors a number of reptiles and amphibians such as crocodiles, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, monitor lizards, agama lizards and frogs. The Great Ruaha and Mzombe rivers are presumably the most preferred habitat for crocodiles.

ruaha national park

Vegetation:

The park is characterized by semi-arid type of vegetation, baobab trees, Acacia and other species. There are over 1650 plant species that have been identified. The park is the transitional point of two vegetation zones, the Zambezian (characterized by Miombo vegetation) and Sudanian (characterized by Acacia vegetation).

ruaha national park

Historical and cultural sites:
There are several historical and cultural sites in the park which offer a visitor a chance to explore the Southern Tanzanian tribes. The early trade routes used by the Arab caravan crossed here.

The park area often hailed as the land of the brave Chief Mkwawa, the Chief of the hehe people who resisted against the German attack in the late 19th century.

Ruaha national park

 

PHYSICAL FEATURES:

Ruaha National Park has a wide range of physical features from the Great Rift Valley, river systems, natural springs, wetlands, hot water springs, and kopjes to the beautiful rolling hills and mountains.

Rivers:

The river systems and watershed are of economical, social and ecological significance for the park itself and country at large. Main rivers include the Great Ruaha, Mzombe, Mdonya, Mwagusi and Jongomero.

Rift valley:

The Great Rift Valley crosses the park. The escarpment wall along the western valley side is about 50-100m high in the north-eastern parts, increasing in height to the southwest. It is considered that, the valley of the Great Ruaha River is an extension of the Great Rift Valley. The Great Ruaha River flows for 160km long along the entire eastern boundary through rugged gorges and open plains.

Natural springs:

Natural springs occur throughout the park are associated with the base of the Western Rift Valley escarpment, most notably Mkwawa, Mwayembe, Makinde and Majimoto springs. These are dry season refugees for wildlife and when most of the rivers get dry.

Undulating landscape

The park has undulating land and hills including kilimamatonge, Nyamasombe, Nyanywa, Chariwindwi, Igawira, Mwayiui, Kibiriti, Magangwe, Ndetamburwa and Isukanvyiola. These act as kopjes creating good habitat for animals such as klipspringer which normally can be seen in some of these hills.

Tourism Activities

Tourism activities in the park include Game viewing, long and short wilderness walking safari, bird watching, picnic, bush meals (break-fast, lunch, dinner) in the untouched bushes.

The wet season (January –April) is best for bird watching, lush scenery and wildflowers. The male Greater kudu is most visible in June which is their breeding season.

How to get there:
By air:

There are both scheduled and chartered flights into the park mainly from Arusha, Dodoma, Kigoma and Dar-es-salaam. Park’s airstrips are located at Msembe and Jongomero

By road:

It is about 130km drive from Iringa town and 625km from Dar-es-salaam city.
The road into the park is passable throughout the year.

Accommodation:

Accommodations can be inside the park or privately owned facilities.

Inside the park:

Jongomero, Kigelia, Mwagusi safari, Old Mdonya River, Kwihala and Flycatcher are several luxury tented camps operating in the park and one lodge namely Ruaha River lodge. These are privately owned.

Outside the park:

Hill top lodge, Sunset lodge, Tandala tented camp to mention a few, are several accommodation facilities just outside the park

 

 

 

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