Ruaha National Park does not have an extensive history like other areas in Tanzania. It is thought that early permanent settlers were dissuaded by the semi-arid climate and the high concentrations of tsetse fly (note however that conservation efforts have since reduced levels of tsetse flies thereby making a visit here a more comfortable experience nowadays). The transformation of this vast area into a national park was first proposed by George Rushby (a Senior Game Ranger) in 1949. Two years later, all the residents were forced out of this protected area and in 1964 Britain elevated Ruaha to a full national park status. In 2008 the Usangu Wildlife Management Area was incorporated into the park creating the 20,000Km² Ruaha National Park as we know it today.
In 2008 the Usangu Game reserve merged its borders with Ruaha transforming it into Tanzania’s largest national park whereby it now covers more than 20,000km². Despite the size of the park, there are still only a handful of camps found here and this aspect has built Ruaha’s reputation as Tanzania’s best kept game viewing secret. Ruaha’s wild and untrammeled feel is what sets it apart from other parks thereby making it a popular choice for regular east African safarigoers.
Ruaha is well known for its varied dramatic scenery which includes rolling hills; large open plains, groves of skeletal baobabs and along its southern border; the Great Ruaha River from which the park gets its name. This is by far the most dominant geographical feature of the national park and for the wildlife, it is the most important feature. Ruaha has got a hot dry climate which means that the animals don’t tend to stray too far from dependable water sources. This makes predicting game movements far easier, particularly during the dry season.
The best game viewing in this national park is generally from May to November, but the bush is greener and prettier from January to June, and birding peaks during the European winter months of December to April.