The game viewing starts the moment the plane touches down. A giraffe races beside the airstrip, all legs and neck, yet oddly elegant in its awkwardness. A line of zebras parades across the runway in the giraffe’s wake.
In the distance, beneath a bulbous baobab tree, a few representatives of Ruaha’s 10,000 elephants – the largest population of any East African national park, form a protective huddle around their young.
During the dry season, impala, waterbuck and other antelopes risk their life for a sip of life-sustaining water. The risk is considerable: not only from the prides of lion that lord over the savannah, but also from the cheetahs that stalk the open grassland and the leopards that lurk in tangled riverine thickets. This impressive array of large predators is boosted by both striped and spotted hyena as well as several conspicuous packs of the highly endangered African wild dog.
Ruaha’s unusually high diversity of antelope is a function of its location, which is transitional to the acacia savannah of East Africa and the miombo woodland belt of Southern Africa. Grant’s gazelle and lesser kudu occur here alongside the miombo-associated sable and roan antelope, and one of East Africa’s largest populations of greater kudu distinguished by the male’s magnificent corkscrew horns.
450 species of birds are also evident here. The likes of crested barbet, an attractive yellow-and-black bird whose persistent trilling, the yellow-collared lovebird and ashy starling.
Activities include day walks or hiking safaris through untouched bush.Stone age ruins at Isimila, near Iringa, 120 km away, one of Africa’s most important historical sites.
Accommodation is available on riverside lodges, dry season tented camps; self-catering bandas, campsites and the Ruaha Hill Top Lodge0