Ruaha National Park in Tanzania

Ruaha National Park is the biggest national park in Tanzania and boasts unrivalled wildlife viewing. The park is an unspoiled wilderness where large prides of lion reign over the land, hippos and crocodiles dominate the river waters, and elephants roam free. The rippling waters of the Ruaha River flow through the park, providing a permanent water source for the abundant wildlife. Visit this beautiful wilderness for a perfect safari getaway!

  • Best Time to Go

    June - October

  • Average Safari Cost

    $200-$600 pp/day. Park fee: $30 (adult), $10 (child).

  • Highlights

    Game drives, night drives, walking safaris, fishing in the river and excellent predator sightings.

Why Visit Ruaha National Park

The Ruaha National Park is an ideal safari destination in Tanzania. The land is brimming with wildlife and is home to great prides of lion and Tanzania's biggest population of elephants. See these magnificent creatures thriving in the vast wilderness, along with elegant antelopes, lean cheetahs and many more. If you're looking for some incredible predator sightings, this is the place to be!

The park derives its name from the Ruaha River, which runs through the south-eastern section of the land. Many animals and birds can be found gathering along the banks of the river to drink and find food. This makes for some excellent wildlife sightings. While the Ruaha National Park is one of the less frequented Tanzanian parks, it is well worth a visit as it provides an authentic safari experience in an untamed wilderness.

Pros and Cons

  • Excellent wildlife viewing and predator sightings
  • Large prides of lion to see
  • Guided walking safaris
  • Good place to encounter the endangered African wild dog
  • Less busy than other parks
  • Limited accommodation options
  • Many lodges close during the wettest months

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Ruaha National Park is during the dry season, from June to October. This is the best time for wildlife viewing as animals gather at the river and water sources and the thinning vegetation makes them easier to spot. Days are warm and dry with average temperatures of 81˚F(27˚C), with nights cooling down to about 59˚F(15˚C). There is also less risk for malaria during these months as there are less mosquitoes.

The wet season is from November to April, which consists of hot days and frequent afternoon rain showers. Average temperatures during the day range from 82˚F(28˚C) to 85˚F(30˚C). Nights and mornings are slightly cooler with an average of about 63˚F(17˚C). The scenery is more lush and green during these months, but the wildlife viewing is more difficult. Heavy rain may disrupt planned activities as roads may become unstable. This is the low season so accommodation rates may be lower. Some lodges close in April and May, which is the end of the wet season and the beginning of the dry season.

For more information when to visit see our Botswana Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

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Wildlife and Birds

Ruaha National Park is absolutely brimming with wildlife to see. You are guaranteed some amazing sightings with the park's big lion prides and massive elephant population. Striking sable and roan antelope can be seen throughout the park, while crocodiles and hippos are found in the waters of the Ruaha River. This park is one of the best places in the region to see the distinctive, and endangered, African wild dog. Leopard, cheetah, buffalo, zebra and many more safari animals can be found here.
List of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Cheetah
  • Hippo
  • Buffalo
  • Hyena
  • Giraffe
  • Warthog
  • Wild Dog
  • Zebra

Rare Animals

  • Hyena, leopard, cheetah, wild dog

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Elephant, giraffe, zebra, hippo, buffalo, lion

There are over 500 recorded species of bird in the Ruaha National Park, which makes it an excellent birding destination. Bateleurs and eagles soar through the clear skies, kingfishers perch along the river banks and many water birds can be seen wading into the river waters. Travel here from November to April to see many migratory birds enter the park.

Endangered Birds

  • Rueppell’s vulture, white-backed vulture, white-headed vulture, Egyptian vulture, hooded vulture, lappet-faced vulture, grey crowned crane, Saker falcon

(Near-)Endemic Birds

  • Ashy starling, Tanzanian red-billed hornbill, yellow-collared lovebird

Getting There and Safety

Most visitors arrive in Tanzania through the Julius Nyerere Airport in Dar es Salaam. From there, the best way to get to Ruaha National Park is by booking a scheduled or chartered flight to the airstrip in the park. Charter flights and transportation are often included in safari packages so check with your operator.

For the flights to Tanzania, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you there and compare various ticket prices.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Tanzania.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Tanzania.


Most foreign visitors require a visa, and a valid passport, in order to visit Tanzania. Visas can be obtain upon arrival in the country. The Tanzania Safari - Complete Country Guide.


The vaccinations recommended for Tanzania are typhoid, rabies, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Having a yellow fever vaccination certificate is advised. There is also a risk for malaria, especially from November to May, so anti-malarial drugs are recommended as well as using insect repellent.

It is better to check with your local medical authority which vaccinations are required.

Check your local travel health authority for more information:

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Tanzania. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

What to Pack

Pack warmly as temperatures are mild during the day and very cold at night. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours and white. Other essential items are a hat, sunglasses, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, first aid kit, binoculars and camera.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.

A 4x4 vehicle is necessary for driving around the park, especially during the rainy months.