Tanzania’s largest national park, Ruaha serves as the country’s central wild and extended ecosystem covering an expanse of almost 28,000-square miles over the middle of the country. The park earned its name from the Great Ruaha River, a massive watercourse flowing through its heart to the southeast, giving way to an unhindered topography of undulating plateaus, sand rivers, rocky outcrops, and baobab groves. Ruaha National Park is also notable for encompassing a transition zone between the East African savannah lands and the South African miombo woodlands, thus creating an overlapping variety of plant and animal species within its Rungwa and Usanga Game Reserves.

The creation of a national park in this area was first proposed in 1949 by the Senior Game Ranger in Mbeya but was not given the distinction until 1964. Today, Ruaha National Park is considered one of Tanzania’s few untouched frontiers for its spectacular concentration of wildlife. It is most famous for being home to Tanzania’s largest elephant population—currently estimated to be 12,000 strong—and is also a great place for birding and bird photography. More than 400 aviary species have been identified of an estimated 475 total, among them hornbills, kingfishers, sunbirds, and many migrant birds like the white stork.

Traveling to Ruaha National Park with Ker & Downey brings with it the promise of exclusive daily game drives, night drives, and walking safaris to bring you intimately closer to the predators and big game of the region. The bursting banks of the Great Ruaha River are a playground for large herds of buffaloes, Grant’s gazelles, wild dogs, ostriches, cheetahs, and roan and sable antelopes, and it is not uncommon to witness lions hunting their prey or groups of giraffes and elephants passing by in troves. Despite the park’s immense size, there are still very few luxury lodges within its boundaries, thus giving visitors the feeling of having all of Ruaha National Park to themselves.