Ruaha National Park

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Ruaha National Park Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 2-3 days

Best Time: June - October Read More

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"Wilderness Escape and Remote Beauty"

Ruaha National Park Tourism

Ruaha National Park is a massive wildlife reserve in Tanzania's Iringa region, covering an area as big as 20,000 square kilometres. It became Tanzania's largest national park in 2008 when the nearby Usangu Game Reserve merged with it. Ruaha is home to around 10% of the world’s lion population and ranks third in Africa for its wild dog population. The park boasts rich wildlife, including more than 10,000 elephants, about 30,000 buffalo, over 20,000 zebras, and various animals as well as over 400 species of birds.

As evident by the name, the highlight of Ruaha National Park is the Great Ruaha River, known for its deep gorges and swift rapids, offering excellent fishing opportunities. Ruaha shares its northern borders with the Kizigio and Rungwa River Game Reserves, collectively forming a vast conservancy. This conservation area is one of the largest in East Africa, contributing significantly to the region's ecological preservation efforts.

Entry Fees to Ruaha National Park:
Park Entry Fee:
EAC: Adult – TSH 5,000, Child – TSH 2000
Resident: Adult – $15, Child - $5
Non-EAC: Adult - $30, Child - $10

Special Activities:
Walking Safaris:
Short walks for adults(1 to 2 hours): EAC – TSH 5000, Residents - $20, Non-EAC - $20
Short walks for children: EAC – TSH 2500, Residents: $10, Non-EAC - $10
Long Walks for adults (above 4 hours): EAC – TSH 10000, Residents - $25, Non-EAC - $25
Long Walks for children: EAC – 5000, Residents - $15, Non EAC - $15

Night Game Drives:
EAC: Adult – TSH 10,000, Child – TSH 5000
Resident: Adult – $50, Child - $25
Non-EAC: Adult - $50, Child - $25

Balloon Operation Fees (per person per trip): $30

Entrance Gates to Ruaha National Park:
Ruaha National Park in Tanzania had several entrance gates:
1. Msembe Gate: Msembe Gate is the main entrance to the park and is closest to the park's headquarters and administrative offices. This gate is suitable for all types of visitors and provides access to various regions within the park.
2. Jongomero Gate: Jongomero Gate is another entry point to the park. It is situated near the Jongomero River and is ideal for visitors interested in exploring the southern part of the park. This gate is recommended for those looking to experience the diverse wildlife and landscapes in the southern region.
3. Mdonya Gate: Mdonya Gate provides access to the northern areas of Ruaha National Park. It is closest to the Mdonya Old River. This gate is a good choice for travellers who want to explore the wildlife-rich northern part of the park.

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Things to do in Ruaha National Park

1. Game Drives Safari

he park offers both morning and afternoon Game Drives, allowing visitors to observe a wide array of wildlife, such as elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, and numerous bird species. Morning game drives (Read More) commence early around 6:00 AM and last until mid-morning, while afternoon drives typically begin in the late afternoon and continue until sunset.

2. Walking Safaris

Guided Walking Safaris provides an intimate and immersive wildlife experience, allowing visitors to explore the park on foot. Knowledgeable guides lead these safaris, offering insights into the flora, (Read More) fauna, and ecosystem of Ruaha. Walking safaris are often conducted in the morning or late afternoon.

3. Boat Safaris

Boat safaris in Ruaha National Park take place along the Great Ruaha River, offering a distinctive way to observe wildlife up close. Visitors can enjoy close encounters with elephants, hippos, crocodi (Read More)les, and various bird species as they come to the river to drink and bathe.

4. The Great Ruaha River

The Great Ruaha River runs through Ruaha National Park, serving as a vital water source that attracts a wide variety of wildlife. Visitors can embark on game drives and boat safaris along the riverban (Read More)ks, providing excellent opportunities to spot elephants, lions, hippos, and diverse bird species. Morning and afternoon safaris are recommended, lasting approximately 3 to 4 hours.

5. The Baobab Valley (Ibex Valley)

The Baobab Valley, also known as Ibex Valley, is located in the eastern part of the park and is characterized by its enchanting landscape adorned with iconic baobab trees. Game drives through this val (Read More)ley offer picturesque scenery and are especially favoured by photography enthusiasts. Morning or afternoon safaris of around 3 to 4 hours are recommended, with late afternoon being the best time for capturing stunning photographs.

6. Cultural Visits

Cultural visits are arranged with nearby communities outside Ruaha National Park, allowing visitors to learn about the traditions and lifestyles of local tribes. A typical cultural visit lasts for hal (Read More)f a day, depending on the scheduled activities.

7. Maji Moto Hot Springs

Located in the eastern part of Ruaha, the Maji Moto Hot Springs are natural geothermal springs that create a soothing oasis for wildlife. Visitors can observe animals gathering around these warm pools (Read More) during the dry season.

8. Night Safaris

For a chance to observe nocturnal wildlife, Night Safaris are available. Conducted after dinner, these safaris offer opportunities to encounter predators and other night-active animals. Guides use spo (Read More)tlights to observe animals without causing a disturbance.

9. Mdonya Old River

Located in the northern part of the park, the Mdonya Old River is a seasonal riverbed that becomes a hub for wildlife during the dry season. Game drives around the riverbed offer opportunities to witn (Read More)ess predators hunting and herbivores gathering at the water source. Morning or afternoon safaris, lasting around 3 to 4 hours, are perfect for experiencing the dynamic interactions between different animal species.

10. Jongomero River

Situated in the southern part of Ruaha National Park, the Jongomero River creates a lush environment that supports various wildlife. Visitors can enjoy walking safaris along the riverbank, providing a (Read More)n intimate and tranquil experience amidst nature. These guided walks typically last for 2 to 3 hours and are best scheduled during the early morning or late afternoon, offering prime birdwatching opportunities.

Must Know Before You Travel to Ruaha National Park

  • Timings: All the gates are typically open from 06:00 AM to 06:00 PM.
  • Travelling by Flight: Flight bookings from Dar es Salem to the park have a minimum requirement of 2 passengers.
  • Permits and Validity:  For entry into National Parks, there are two permit types: day-trip permits (valid for 12 daylight hours) and sleep-over permits (valid for 24 hours), both allowing multiple entries within their respective validity periods.
  • Tour Operators: Consider booking your visit to Ruaha National Park through tour operators for a hassle-free and tailored safari experience. Usually, the package also includes charter flights to the park’s airstrip.
  • Fuel: Consider fueling up in Iringa as petrol at the park's headquarters can be relatively expensive.
  • Pre-Booking: Pre-booking is highly recommended for activities and accommodations in Ruaha National Park, especially during the peak season (June to October).
  • Commuting within the Park: Make sure you have a 4x4 vehicle to access all roads within the park throughout the year for smooth commuting.
  • Payment Modes: You can obtain permits at the gate using Visa or Mastercard, as TANAPA does not accept cash payments at this time.
  • ATM: It is advisable to carry enough cash for your visit to Ruaha National Park, as there are no ATMs within the park itself.
  • Itineraries and Combining Parks: Combine your visit to Ruaha National Park with offbeat parks in Southern and Western Tanzania, like Nyerere (Selous) or Katavi, and end with a chimpanzee trekking safari at Gombe or Mahale
  • Vaccinations: Ensure you have recommended vaccinations for yellow fever, tetanus, typhoid, polio, and hepatitis and take anti-malaria prophylactics.

More on Ruaha National Park Travel

Wildlife in Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park is home to around 10% of the world’s lion population, ranks third in Africa for its wild dog population and has over 10,000 elephants, along with substantial populations of buffaloes, zebras (approximately 20,000), and impalas. Visitors can also expect to encounter leopards, cheetahs, and spotted hyenas, which are among the park's notable carnivores. Other mammalian species include giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, warthogs, waterbucks, sable antelopes, and greater kudus.

When it comes to birdlife, the park hosts more than 400 species. Bird enthusiasts can spot various raptors, including the African fish eagle, bateleur, and martial eagle. Ruaha is also home to numerous vultures, storks, hornbills, and rollers. Along the riverbanks, visitors may observe kingfishers, herons, and other waterfowl. It is also possible to witness unique birds such as African fish eagle, Ashy starling Black-bellied bustard, Collared palm-thrush, Crested barbet, Eleonora’s falcon, Emerald-spotted wood dove, Goliath heron, Long-crested eagle, Namaqua dove, Southern ground hornbill, Tanzanian red-billed hornbill, White-bellied go-away bird, Yellow-collared lovebird.

Best Time to Visit Ruaha National Park

How to Reach Ruaha National Park

How to Reach Overview

Getting to Ruaha National Park is easiest by air, with the nearest airport, Iringa Airport, approximately 140 kilometres away. International travellers can fly to major airports like Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam and then book a domestic flight to Msembe Airstrip, taking about 2.5 hours. Another option is road travel from nearby towns like Iringa, which takes around 2 to 3 hours via the R7 highway. Public transportation, like "dala-dalas," is also available as a more budget-friendly choice from Iringa. 

How to reach Ruaha National Park by flight

The most convenient and efficient way to access Ruaha National Park is by air. The nearest airport to the park's headquarters is Iringa Airport, located about 140 kilometres away. Within the park, there is a designated airstrip called Msembe Airstrip.

For international travellers, reaching Ruaha National Park involves flying into Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. From there, you can book a domestic flight to Msembe Airstrip, which takes approximately 2.5 hours and costs around $800 for a round-trip. Alternatively, if you are already in Tanzania, you can take a shorter flight from Iringa Airport to Msembe Airstrip, which takes about 30 minutes and costs approximately $400 for a round-trip.

For flights to Tanzania, you can use flight booking platforms like Skyscanner. Whereas for domestic flights to either Iringa or Ruaha Msembe Airstrip, you can book with Auric Air and Coastal Aviation.

How to reach Ruaha National Park by road

To reach Ruaha National Park by road, you can start from Iringa town. The distance from Iringa to the park's main entrance is about 130 kilometres (approximately 81 miles). The journey typically takes around 2 to 3 hours via the R7 highway. You can hire a private car or taxi.

How to reach Ruaha National Park by bus

Public transportation like minibuses, known as "dala-dalas," is a common mode of transport in Tanzania. The cost of a dala-dala ride from Iringa to the park might be around $10 to $20 per person, one way.

Ruaha National Park Photos

Ruaha National Park
Msembe airstrip in Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National park
Ruaha National park

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