Learn about Ruaha National Park in Tanzania

Ruaha is one of the largest national parks in Tanzania and it is kind of a secret tip for safaris, because it is relatively inaccessible that means it will see far fewer tourists than other comparable parks. It is part of the so-called southern circuit in Tanzania. This restricted accessibility means it is best to fly into the park and this is exactly what we did. There are several lodges in the park, we did stay in the Ruaha River Lodge which proved to be an excellent decision.


The southern neighbour park of Ruaha is Selous Game Reserve that we will discuss in another post, but the big advantage of Ruaha is that it is generally wilder and has more wildlife to offer. One of the stunning things to see here is the wild landscape where the hills are covered with baobab trees.


You can find here many giraffes, especially down at the Ruaha riverbed, as well as elephant herds mixed with all different kind of gazelles including Grant’s gazelle, but also greater and lesser kudu, waterbuck and impala


And zebras, where we had the opportunity to find especially beautiful representatives like this one without searching too long.


You could spend easily hours of watching all these animals and how they interact together, of course always sensitive to any potential danger that might appear out of nowhere.


Giraffes are actually so beautiful to watch and when moving this looks like slow motion.


Sure enough you can see many baboons around and when having your meal or making a stop in the bush it is generally a good idea to watch all your belongings so that the monkeys cannot escape with them.


One of the strengths of this park is the sheer combination of all different kinds of species from South and East Africa in such a relatively small space.


Especially the concentration of different kinds of birds is what makes Ruaha very appealing to birdwatchers as well and we are talking about over 500 species of bird!


You can find all predators in this park as well like cheetah, leopard, wild dog, hyena and of course lions. This lioness was resting in the shadow near the Ruaha riverbed when we passed by and almost ignored us totally, well obviously a very lazy afternoon.


Herds of elephants can be found everywhere, but especially again close to the riverbed, where they easily find lot of greens.


When approaching elephants it is a good thing to have an experienced guide like we did, because it can happen that especially some males can feel disturbed and this shows easily in their gestures.


If you like to photograph sunrise or sunset this is the right place for you. For me especially sunrise was bringing the better results, only thing you have to take care is to get out of bed early enough and have your camera ready.


But it is often not only the sun itself that makes up for stunning photos, it can also be the colours of the sky in that phases of the day that offer worthwhile motives.


It is always very impressive to see the wideness of the country, which was demonstrated very nicely down at the Ruaha riverbed the other morning.


So my secret tip is visit Ruaha National Park as you will for sure not be disappointed with either exciting game watching, stunning landscape or lodges offering great hospitality on the most beautiful places you can dream of.

Learn more about safari tours including Ruaha National Park on our African Safari Tours page with a variety of sample tours.

Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa



Peter’s African Safari Travel Diary

We had a great night in the Ruaha River Lodge and this morning went out on our game drive already before 6:00am in order to be able to get hold of a potentially beautiful sunrise. And what a sunrise that was, we were not disappointed at all!



This is one of the routines when you are photographing on safari to get out as early as possible in order to be able to see the sunrise, enjoy the stunning colours during this first hours of the day and of course also to see potentially as many animals and if lucky predators still eating their kill from last night. The highlight we got this morning was no predators, but instead a beautiful giant eagle owl sitting high up in a tree.



After we had done some driving we went down to the Ruaha river in order to have breakfast. There is nothing like having breakfast in the bush, where the sun is already a bit higher and already starts warming up the air, which is a nice welcome after the usually cool nights and morning hours. Alex our guide was nicely preparing the whole breakfast setup and we started enjoying our coffee or tea, while eating the deliciously prepared breakfast.



We had at the same time the possibility to watch the animals in the dried river bed like elephants, antelopes and even some hippos. It quickly got warmer and we had to move on to come back to the lodge in order to pack and prepare for our next hop to Selous.



We were brought to Selous by a small airplane from Fox airlines. We were heading to the beautiful Rufiji River Camp, where we arrived at 3:00pm.



Our tent was built underneath a high roof made from wood and we were again surprised about how beautiful and comfortable the interior looked like in this place, far away from standard civilization. Meanwhile Joel and I were already used to sharing one room or tent and as they tended to be so spacious there was absolutely no problem with that.



At 4:00pm we started our boat cruise on the Rufiji river where we would have the opportunity to see all the animals from a totally different view as compared to the usual view out of a vehicle. We started with huge groups of pelicans who were absolutely not shy when the boat got closer.



Next were hippos who were hiding everywhere in the water and the one group we had approached now was obviously surprised and upset because they hurried to get away from us as quickly as possible.



Around the river you can see a multitude of birds but as you already know I am not a birder. Nevertheless one cannot help keep shooting these beautiful animals and I even got the chance to shoot a goliath heron this evening – yes I am very proud I managed to identify this beautiful bird.



One of the highlights was to be able to get very close to crocodiles and we saw quite a few magnificent ones. They were dozing lazy on the sandbanks in the grass enjoying the evening sun before sliding slowly back into the water as soon as our boat came closer.



Another beautiful sunset closed the day when our boat arrived at the lodge to let us enjoy our dinner and well-deserved sleep after this day of breath taking views and adventures.


Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Find more African safari inspiration on our website.

Peter’s African Safari Travel Diary

We were starting this adventure through National Parks in Tanzania and Kenia from Zanzibar, where we had the privilege to stay in a stunning place called Next Paradise that turned out to be a real secret marvel at the Indian Ocean. This hotel is lead by Stuart and his wife. Stuart is an interesting, friendly and very much caring guy actually from Italy and living here in Zanzibar for many years now.



We, these were my friends Ute Sonnenberg from Roho Ya Chui (http://www.rohoyachui.com) South Africa and Joel Lipton from LA and me from Austria. We all had arrived the evening before and now had far too soon to leave already for our African Safari sight inspection tour over the next few days, but at least  we got to see a wonderful sunrise when first looking out of our rooms this morning.



Our destination for this day was the wonderful Ruaha National Park in Tanzania that we could access by small airplanes typically of the type Cessna Caravan via Dar Es Salam. On our second flight the captain was Peter Fox himself, one of the directors of the local airline as well as the lodge where we would stay. We arrived at noon at the local air strip in Ruaha, where our guide Alex was already waiting for us. Our goal was to stay as long as possible in the bush and arrive at the Ruaha River Lodge as late as possible, in order to give us maximum time for doing our photography and cinematography. Now it was a big advantage to travel in a small group where all members had essentially the same interests. We started to shoot ourselves warm with some nice baobab trees that can be found especially in these areas of Africa.



While driving deeper into the bush towards the Ruaha river, there was no shortage of all different kind of animals, giraffes, elephants, antelopes, zebras, and of course birds, well you could ask which birds, but as I am no bird specialist yet I’d rather like not to specify them the wrong way. We made a stop near by the river for lunch and  from there it was nice to watch the animals grazing in the dried parts of the riverbed.



Our first lion of this trip was a lioness obviously enjoying the shadow nearby the river. We did not expect the lioness lying around almost unprotected and easily watchable and she was not scared at all that we took pictures and videos of her as we got close to almost 10 meters, well an experienced guide can make this possible!



A herd of elephants was scanning the riverbed for greens and it is always amazing to watch these animals walking together and doing their thing as a group. They usually keep their babies in the middle of the group for protection, but there in the wide and quiet riverbed they all felt so safe that they obviously loosened this rule a lot. We followed this group when they came out of the riverbed to find food somewhere else while moving in the beautiful Ruaha sunset. It was time for us to drive to the lodge, where we had dinner and went to bed tired but happy after that first day of our adventure. Tomorrow would be another interesting day starting early.


Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa