Ruaha National Park is unlike any place I’ve ever visited. If asked to describe it, I would say it is remote, wild and natural…but that barely scratches the surface. The truth is, Ruaha is a really difficult place to describe. I can tell you the wildlife is unbelievable but how do you describe landscapes so untouched that make you feel you discovered the place? How do you accurately convey true adventure and the feeling that you and your guide are the only people for miles on end? My recent visit to this intriguing national park proved that Ruaha is a place beyond words, it is an experience.
On paper, Ruaha is pretty amazing: Located off the beaten track in southern Tanzania, it is the largest national park in the country; it is also home to about 10,000 elephants who are able to sense and excavate water beneath the surface of Ruaha’s sand rivers; and rare species such as wild dog, sable, and roan antelope can be found here.
While this was a new and exciting destination for me, I still appreciate visiting parks of northern Tanzania, like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. These are some of the world’s most ecologically important regions and the fact they are teeming with wildlife makes them a must-see destination. But for a true wildlife enthusiast who enjoys the art of the search, tracking wildlife and has an understanding of wildlife behaviors, Ruaha is a dream.
The only way to explain the wonders of this inexplicable place is by recounting my first morning game drive from Mwagusi Safari Camp. We barely had to drive at all, just 50 yards from camp, we spotted a mother cheetah teaching her cubs how to hunt. With the sun barely above the horizon, the light showered this feline life-lesson in golden tones as we settled-in to observe this spectacular sight for the next 2 hours. We watched as the mother taught her cubs how to run, chase down prey – she even picked up a fox in her jaws just to show them how to do it. Phenomenal stuff. Comparatively, if we were wildlife viewing in the Serengeti, in 2 hours, we would have covered more ground and would have probably seen elephant, lion, wildebeest, and more. But taking our time and watching this single, natural event unfold was a totally fulfilling experience for me.
Leopard in Ruaha National Park
Clearing elephants from the airstrip to prepare for the next flight
My tent at Mwagusi Safari Camp
Cheetahs enjoying an afternoon repose
Mama cheetah teaching her cubs how to hunt
Elephants excavating for water in Ruaha's sand rivers
The trip was enhanced by Mwagusi Safari Camp. The guides and staff at Mwagusi are passionate about the camp, the park and its wildlife. As for the accommodations, I’d call this lodge beyond eco-friendly – it is infused right into the ecosystem. Set on the Mwagusi River, each banda is made out of natural materials and has modern comforts. On nice evenings, guests enjoy dinner served under the stars on the banks of the river.
For any major wildlife enthusiast or experienced safari traveler, you really have to take a chance on a place that is hard to describe and experience the wilds of Ruaha National Park.
Want to experience Ruaha National Park for yourself? Check out our North & South Safari, which includes a visit to Ruaha. We can also help you plan a private/custom safari incorporating Ruaha into your itinerary. Call us for details.