Ruaha National Park

With almost 13,000 square kilometers of terrain, Ruaha National Park has many hidden treasures to explore and discover.

Situated in Central Tanzania, the Ruaha National Park is one of the largest protected areas in Africa. It is the second biggest national park in Tanzania, with 13,000 square kilometers. Since visitor numbers are comparatively few, it possesses an untouched, raw, natural beauty that is rare among national parks.

Natural Features

The park is part of an even larger natural ecosystem, incorporating the adjacent Rungwa, Kigozo and Muhezi reserves to the North. The reserve derives its name from the ever-flowing Ruaha River which winds its way Northeast and then South into the Rufiji River before arriving at the Indian Ocean.

Only a small part of Ruaha is actually open to visitors, where they can explore a network of trails along the main river and its many seasonal tributaries, before venturing into the Baobab-clad hillsides and tall Miombo woodlands.

The variation in altitude and topography has created wide diversity of plants and wildlife, which flourishes due to the constant feature of the Ruaha River.

In addition to these factors, Ruaha is also situated in an ecological transition for Eastern and Southern African species. 

The undulating topography, glorious river and majestic trees combine to produce one of Africa’s most captivating landscapes.

Enormous Baobab trees are a key feature of Ruaha, which are favorite among elephants. Elephant relish the succulent bark of Baobab trees and gouge into the tree trunks with their powerful tusks.

Other impressive Ruaha trees include Tamarind, Jackalberry, Wooden Banana, Pod Mahogany, and Newtonia.

What You’ll See

“Ruaha National Park is the second largest park in Tanzania, with a variety of wildlife to discover”

Virtually all of Africa’s large mammal species are found in Ruaha.

Hippos are abundant within the winding Ruaha River. Large carnivores are well represented, with  large populations of lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena, and wild dog found within the national park’s boundaries.

The park is also famous for its huge elephant and buffalo herds, as well as a variety of antelope species, including both greater and lesser kudu, roan, sable and eland.

Small herds of agile Grant’s gazelle occur in the open plains of the Northwest. Visitors can marvel at the troops of yellow baboon who wander the woodlands, while small numbers of black-and-white colobus reside within the lush forest.

Among the smaller carnivorous population, both black-backed and side-striped jackals exist alongside honey badgers, African civets, as well as serval and Egyptian mongoose populations.

Unfortunately, wildebeest are oddly absent in this part of Tanzania.


For birdwatchers, Ruaha is a truly marvelous destination, with over 500 species roaming within its limits.

Of particular interest is the Tanzanian red-billed hornbill. This hornbill is particularly prolific within Ruaha, where the birds are often viewed alongside African grey hornbills and Von der Decken’s hornbills.

Within the Miombo woodlands, visitors can often spy species of

  • Ashy starling
  • Nubian woodpecker
  • Bare-faced go-away bird
  • White-headed buffalo-weaver
  • Grey-capped social-weaver
  • Red-faced crombec
  • Collared palm-thrush
  • Crested barbet
  • Raquet-tailed roller
  • White-breasted cuckooshrike
  • Spotted creeper

Raptors and waterfowl are also well-represented. The African skimmer and white-crowned lapwing can often be found breeding on the extensive sandbars of the Ruaha River.

Ruaha National Park is home to a vast array of animal populations and habitats that delight even the most experienced African safari enthusiast.

Source: Tanzania Tourist Board

Header Image Source: Ruaha River Lodge

Source: Tanzania Tourist Board

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