Birdlife: Ruaha national park is perfect destination for Tanzania birding safaris, the park hosts a total of 574 bird species and attracts a number of migrant birds from Europe, Australian rim, Madagascar and from others parts of the African continent. Recently, one of Tanzania’s important birding areas (iba) Usangu basin wetland was annexed to Ruaha national park adding on to the large bird population found in the park.
Some of the birds found in Ruaha national park include Tanzanian red-billed hornbill, Bataleur, giant kingfisher, collared palm-thrush, white-browed coucal, spur-winged goose, african fish eagle, ashy starling, black-bellied bustard, collared palm-thrush, crested barbet, Eleonora’s falcon, emerald-spotted wood dove, goliath heron, long-crested eagle, Namaqua dove, southern ground hornbill, Tanzanian red-billed hornbill, white-bellied go-away bird, yellow-collared lovebird among others.
Birds in ruaha national park are best seen during the period from November to April as migratory bird species join the resident species.
Vegetation cover and spectacular landscape: ruaha national park is dominated by semi-arid type of vegetation which is also one of the tourist attractions of the park, the vegetation cover consists of baobab trees, acacia trees and over 1650 plant species. Ruaha national park is a point of transition from two vegetation zones that are Miombo vegetation which is characterized of Miombo vegetation and Sudanian vegetation characterized of acacia vegetation.
Ruaha national park one of the breathtaking areas perfect for Tanzania scenic viewing safaris, the park has breath taking landscape consisting of plains, wetlands, rolling hills, rocky escarpments and the great ruaha river. Some of the beautiful hills in ruaha national park include Kilimamatonge, Nyamasombe, and Nyanywa, chariwindwi, Igawira, Mwayiui, Kibiriti, Magangwe, Ndetamburwa and Isukanvyiola. These hills act as kopjes thus creating a good habitat for animals living in the park such as klipspringer among others.
Historical and cultural sites: ruaha national park comprises of several historical and cultural sites and because of the sites, the park has become an excellent site for Tanzania cultural safaris and historical tours. The area of ruaha national park is hailed as “the land of the brave chief Mkwawa” the chief of the hehe people who resisted against the German attack/influence in the late 19th century. The area of the park was part of the hehe community which was under the leadership of chief Mkwawa, in process of resisting the Germany colonial influence of successful and fierce battle tactics were used against the Germans and some of the rocky outcrops in the park were used as hiding places. These out crops are famously known as the hiding places of Mkwawa who went into hiding after the fall of his Kalenga Empire to the German in 1894.
Many believe that the area of ruaha national park holds many secrets of chief Mkwawa and there are many cultural sites in the park such as
Mapenza grave – Mapenza grave belong to the Gogo chief who has a burial site in the park and it is located on the rout leading to Mpululu, visiting this grave is a full day guided excursion from Msembe.
Idinda rock paintings – this site consists of rocky paints and traditional materials believed to have made by the ancient people.
The Ganga la Mafunyo rock – is a ritual site for the local people of Pawanga villages.
The Nyanywa rock paintings – historical site hosting various ancient painting made by ancient people and many other historical things.
Visiting Ruaha national park offers an opportunity to explore the tribes found in the southern Tanzania and early trade routes used by the Arab caravan which crossed over the area. These trades came into existence as a result of the Arabs expanding their routes northward in 1830, also in 1857 – 1858 European explorers such as burton and Speke used these routes during their exploring expeditions.
Rivers :ruaha national park encompasses of a grand river systems which are not only one of the attractions in the park but also watershed feeding the park’s ecosystem, some of the main rivers in ruaha national park include the great ruaha river, Mzombe river, Mdonya river, Mwagusi river and Jongomero river.
The great ruaha river is the major tourist attraction in ruaha national park and the most significant river running along the eastern boundary of the park. The river is about 457 kilometers long and its tributary basin has a catchment area of 68,000 square kilometers, the river flows through the Usangu wetlands then eastwards through the park to join the Rufiji River.
The great ruaha river is fed by many other river and some of the majors rivers include Lukosi, Yovi, Kitete, Sanje, little ruaha, Kisigo, Mbarali, kimani and Chimala. Small rivers include Umrobi, Mkoji, Lunwa, Mloboji, Ipatagwa, Mambi and Mswiswi rivers.
The great ruaha river is an excellent sight for Tanzania bird watching safaris as well as game viewing, the vegetation along the river banks host many water birds and the river its self is usually crowded by many animals in attempts of quenching their thirst most especially in the dry season.
Rift valley: Ruaha national park is crossed by the Great Rift Valley creating spectacular scenery in the park, the rift valley in the park consists of an escarpment wall of about 50 – 100 meters high in the north-eastern parts along the western valley side and its height increases to the southwest.
The valley of the great ruaha river in ruaha national park is considered to be an extension of the Great Rift Valley, this valley is crossed by the great ruaha river flowing for approximately 160 kilometers along the entire eastern boundary through rugged gorges and open plains.
Natural springs: Among the spectacular attractions in ruaha national park are the hot springs, these hot springs are associated with the base of the western rift valley escarpment.
Hot springs in Ruaha national park are many but the notable ones include Mkwawa, Mwayembe, and Makinde and Majimoto hot springs. Majimoto hot spring is the most interesting hot springs offering tourists an opportunity to touch naturally hot water and it situated in Jongomero area approximately 20 kilometers from Jongomero tented camp.
These hot springs are a great site to visit during game viewing experience in Ruaha national park most especially in the dry season as many animals gather around them to drink water.