Only 1% of visitors to Tanzania go on safari to Ruaha. Lying deep in southern Tanzania, it's a classic off-the-beaten-path, fly-in destination but Ruaha National Park delivers one of the most rewarding wildlife experiences in the country. Set where the woodlands of Southern Africa meet the savannahs of East Africa, a Ruaha safari showcases a region where the diversity of animals is matched by their numbers.
Drawing its name and lifeblood from the permanent Great Ruaha River that forms its eastern border, Tanzania's second biggest park is home to the largest elephant herds in East Africa and has an excellent reputation for predators. All the big cats - lion, leopard and cheetah - are there in healthy numbers as is the highly endangered wild dog and spotted hyena.
The best time to visit Ruaha for game viewing is from May to October. Animals are ever-increasingly concentrated along hippo-and-crocodile-filled watercourses during these hot and dry months and visitors can expect to see a wide range of game species such as greater kudu, buffalo, roan and sable antelope, zebra and giraffe. And with a bird count well over 500 species, it's also an excellent bird watching destination, especially during the November to April rainy season.
Best avoided in the peak rainy months of February and March, Ruaha has a handful of remote lodges and tented camps that offer the discerning safari-goer the opportunity to discover what is often described as Tanzania's best-kept secret. Combine a Ruaha safari with other wildlife highlights in southern Tanzania such as a safari in the even bigger and even wilder Selous Game Reserve or chimpanzee-trekking in the forests of the Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream national parks.
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