Ruaha National Park is the 2nd largest park in Tanzania and East Africa. Ruaha means ‘river’ and it originated from the great Ruaha River.
It covers 45,000 square kilometers and can be reached by road from Iringa or by air through Msembe airstrip and Jongomeru airstrip.
Ruaha park is composed of wild animals, dense rain forests and wetlands. The rivers that flow through this park are: the Great Ruaha River, Mwagusi, Jongomero and Mzombe river. Major wild animals found here are: elephants, buffalos, antelopes and some of rare and endangered species like wild dogs.
The major tourist attractions in the park are;
the park has 571bird species. Both migrants from within and outside Africa and resident birds. Migrating species fly all the way from Europe, Asia, Australian rim and Madagascar.
Species of interest in the park include Ruaha red-billed hornbill (Tokus ruahae) which is dominant in the area.
The park is recognized by IBA (Birdlife International) and the birds can be watchedall year round.
Ruaha is said to have the most elephants compared to any national park in East Africa.
The park is also a habitat to endangered wild dogs. Other animals in the park include lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, elands, impala, bat eared foxes and Jackals.
It is also a place where, magnificent mammals like Kudu (both Greater and Lesser), Sable and Roan antelopes can easily be spotted in Miombo woodland.
c) Reptiles and Amphibians
The park also harbors a number of reptiles and amphibians such as crocodiles, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, monitor lizards, agama lizards and frogs.
The Great Ruaha and Mzombe rivers are presumably the most preferred habitat for crocodiles.
d) Historical sites
Moreover, the park holds many cultural sites that were used for Hehe rituals are “Ganga la Mafunyo”, Nyanywa and Chahe.
Rock paintings at Nyanywa, the “Gogo” chief “Mapenza” grave at Mpululu and “Mkwawa” spring area believed to be used by Chief Mkwawa.
Other sites near the park include Isimila pillars near Iringa town, Kalenga, Mlambalasi, Lugalo and God’s bridge amon others.
e) Natural Springs
The park has several natural springs in the park asaresult of the Western Rift Valley escarpment base. Namely, the Mkwawa, Mwayembe, Makinde and Majimoto springs. Animals seek water from th springs during the dry season
Tourism activities in the park include Game viewing, long and short wilderness walking safari, bird watching, picnic, bush meals (break-fast, lunch, dinner).