Ruaha is the Tanzania’s second biggest park, located west of Iringa. Its name derives from the Ruaha River which flows along its entire eastern border creating spectacular gorges, where a large number of hippos, crocodiles and fish live. The availability of water attracts impala, waterbuck and other antelopes, and by consequence predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas.
Ruaha is the country’s second largest park and home to Tanzania’s largest elephant populations. Previous inaccessibility has ensured it has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. The park has recently been combined with the Usanga Game Reservecovering over 15,000 sq km and making the largest National Park in Africa. Hugeelephant herds can be seen gathering around the Great Ruaha River, which makes the highlight of a trip to Ruaha. Flowing into the Rufiji River, the Great Ruaha is home to hippo and crocodiles. Waterbuck, reedbuck and large herds of buffaloes venture to the river’s edge to drink, attracting the attention of lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and wild dog. Ruaha’s unusually high diversity of antelope is a function of its location, Grant’s gazelle, eland, kudu, impala, roan and sable antelope and the tiny dik-dik thrive in the grasslands bordering the river alongside giraffe, zebra, wild cat, mongoose, warthog and civet.
Sand Rivers are running through the park, which dry up completely in the dry season and act as roads for the game to move from waterhole to waterhole. Birdlife is prolific, especially along the Great Ruaha River, which winds through the eastern side of the park. The park offers over 465 species. The rainy season from January to June is particularly spectacular as the normal abundant birdlife is enhanced by numerous migrant species. Eurasian migrants flock to Ruaha twice a year joining the resident kingfishers, hornbills, sunbirds, egrets and plovers.