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Ruaha National Park

Ruaha is Tanzania's second largest safari park.

Best time to visit: July, August, September, October

Safaris: Upon Request

Activities: Bird Watching, Game Walking

Accommodation: Adventure Camping, Mobile Camping

Day: 20-35° C, 68-95° F
Night: 10-20° C, 50-68° F

Tanzania's second largest National Park, this isolated woodlands area has remained undisturbed by man, virtually unchanged for centuries.

The Ruaha River forms the eastern border of the park as the main water supply. The river flows through sandy soils, creating intertwining channels of barely moving water during the six-month dry season, then raging torrents of water during the January to March rainy season.

Ruaha's woodlands consists mainly of the tall, wide open canopies of the Brachystegia tree, especially adapted to the infertile soils and limited rain of this part of Tanzania. These trees form the majority of the miombo woodlands that provide a wide range of habitats to over 1,600 species of plants and 400 species of birds. Those with keen eyes will spot the violet-crested turaco, pale-billed hornbill, Dickinson's kestrel and racquet-tailed roller.

The Great Ruaha River is the showpiece however, as it wanders through the woodlands and out to the grassy plains. Clawless otters play in the shallows, crocodiles lurk on the sandbanks, and reedbuck, waterbuck and buffalo come down to water's edge to drink, keeping out a wary eye for the lion, hunting dog, leopard and spotted hyena.

Skimmer birds swoop along in search of tiny minnows and hippos cavort in the deeper pools. Eurasian migrant birds flock along the banks, to share feeding grounds with the resident kingfishers, bee-eaters, and sunbirds, whose iridescent blue, yellow, purple and green colours sparkle from the branches, reflected in the waters.

A buffalo in the Ruaha River, Tanzania.

In the grassland borders of the park, greater and lesser Kudu, eland, impala, dik-dik, zebra, mongoose, wild cat, warthog, porcupine and civet cats abound, with a small but slowly growing population of tusk-less elephants. This small group of elephant is not a target for poaching so their numbers have increased over the years.

Little known and unexplored, the Ruaha National Park is a haven for wildlife and a superb safari experience for the adventurous.

Copyright Melinda Rees of Eco-resorts

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