RUAHA NATIONAL PARK TANZANIA
Ruaha National park is the largest Tanzanian National park which is located about 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of Iringa. The park covers about 20,226 square kilometers in size and a part of the 17,809 sq mi (45,000 square kilometers) ecosystem of Rungwa Kizigo Muhesi that include the Kizigo, Rungwa Game Reserve and the Mbomipa wildlife Management Area. Due to the addition of the Usangu Game Reserve and other important wetlands in 2008 to the park increased its size hence making it largest park in Tanzania and East Africa.
History and Ecosystem in Ruaha National Park
History and Ecosystem in Ruaha National Park
In the year of 1910 the Germany gazetted the Saba Game Reserve and in 1946 the British colonial authorities changed the name to the Rungwa Game Reserve. Later the southern portion of the reserve was excised and elevated to full park status in 1964. The park’s name was derived from the Great Ruaha River that flows along the its margin in southeastern which is the focus for game viewing.
The Ruaha National park has an bimodal pattern of rain forest and here the short season for rain fall begins in November to February and the long season is between March and April and the month of June and October are the park’s experience of dry season.
Ruaha National park is characterized by the vegetation type which is Semi-arid, baobab trees, Acacia among others and the plant species that have been identified within the park are over 1,650 plant species.
Tanzania Safari Attractions in Ruaha National park
The park is believed to be having the highest concentration of elephants than any other national park in the Eastern Africa and the magnificent mammals like the Sable, Kudu and Roan antelopes can be easily spotted in the place in the Miombo woodland. Ruaha is also a home to other endangered animals which include the African leopards, cheetah, lions, zebras, impala, elands, jackals, hippopotamus, African buffalo, wild dog and bat eared foxes. Putting aside big animals, Ruaha also harbors a number of amphibians and reptiles including monitor lizards, crocodiles, frogs, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes and agama lizards.
The park is also rich in Birdlife, having an extra-ordinary bird and is one of the Tanzania’s bird paradise and there are over 571 bird species recorded within and among the resident species are hornbills together with many migratory birds that visit the park. These bird species include a mix of southern and northern species which are substantial and visible populations of black collared lovebird and ashy starlings, however this is the only savanna reserve in East Africa where the crested barbet replaces the red and yellow barbet.
There are also species which are found along the rivers and these bird species include the goliath herons, saddle billed storks, white backed night heron and white-headed plovers and the six species of both vultures and hornbills include the recently described Tanzanian red billed hornbill and the park also represent the Raptors with bateleur and fish eagle which are probably the most visible large birds of prey and with the localized Eleanora’s falcon commonly seen in December and January.
These offers a chance to explore the Southern Tanzanian tribes because the park has several historical and cultural sites and also the early trade routes which were used by the Arab caravans crossed here. These traders expanded their routes northward in the year of 1830 and the other European explorers that is Speke and Burton used these routes too in the years 1857 to 1858 and while visiting his chiefdoms in Sangu and Gogo, Chief Mkwawa used the same routes. The brave chief Mkwawa of the Hehe people who resisted against the German invasion there by making the Hehe tribe famous in the southern highland of the then Tanganyika the area often hailed as his land and the tribe of Hehe under the leadership of Chief Mkwawa was dominant around the Ruaha area and it is believed that the ancient land “Ruaha National Park” holds many secrets of chief Mkwawa because even some of the outcrops in the park area are known as hiding places of chief Mkwawa who went into hiding after the fall of his empire known as the Kalenga in 1894.
The other cultural sites which were used for rituals are Nyanywa and Chahe, Ganga la Mafunyo, painting rock at Nyanywa, Gogo Chief Mapenza grave at Mpululu and Mkwawa sprng area believed to be used by Chief Mkwawa among others.
The park’s main rivers include the great Ruaha, Mzombe, Mwagusi, Jongomero and Mdonya which these watershed and river systems are of economic, social and ecological significance for the park.
Rift Valley as a Tanzania Safari Attraction in Ruaha National Park
The Great Rift Valley crosses the park and the escarpment wall along the western Valley side which is about 50-100m high in the north eastern parks and increasing to the southwest. The Ruaha river flows long along the entire eastern boundary through rugged gorges and open plains for 160 kilometers and it is considered that the valley of the Great Ruaha River is the Great Rift valley’s extension.
These are associated with the base of the base of the Western Rift Valley escarpment, they occur throughout the park and the most notably are the Makinde, Mkwawa, Majimoto and Mwayembe springs and they act as the dry season refugees for wildlife when most of the rivers get dry.
Undulating Landscape as a Tanzania Safari Attraction in Ruaha National Park
The undulating land and hills act as kopjes creating good habitat for animals such as Klipspringer which normally can be seen in some of these hills and the park’s undulating land and hills include the Nyamasombe, Igawira, Magangwe, Isukanvyiola, Nyanywa, Kilimamatonge, Chariwindwi and Nyamasombe.
Tanzania Safari Activities in Ruaha National Park
This activity is done within the park and it gives you ideal opportunities of seeing the bigger wildlife, in open sided vehicles, offering uninterrupted views stunning views of birdwatching, either on foot or by vehicle, trying to take in as many of the 547-bird species found in Ruaha and you can also incorporate bush craft for those that are interested into a walk and also learning how you would survive in this wild and rugged environment.
Bird watching as a Tanzania Safari activity in Ruaha National Park
The best season to carry out the bird watching, wildflowers and lush scenery activity is the wet season from January – April and here the most visible bird in June which is their breeding season is called the male Greater Kudu.
How to get to Ruaha National Park Tanzania
The park is accessed by road from Iringa town which is about 130 kilometers and 625 kilometers from Dar-es-Salaam city.
It can also be reached by a flight mainly scheduled and chartered flights from Arusha, Dodoma, Kigoma and Dar-es-salaam and the park’s air strips are located at Jongomero and Msembe.