Tanzania : Ruaha National Park
Tanzania's second largest park is often thought of as the country's best kept secret. At the southern end of the Great Rift Valley, it is one of Africa’s greatest wilderness areas with rolling hills and large, open plains dotted with baobab groves, and bordered in the south by the great Ruaha River. The park has a huge diversity of fauna and flora that is probably unequalled in East Africa. There are just a handful of camps, and being more remote than some of the other parks, it remains largely unspoilt and un-crowded.
Ruaha River Lodge is in a beautiful position overlooking the Great Ruaha River, and is the only lodge in the park to be on the river. The stone and thatch bandas blend into the bush and the verandas are the perfect setting to watch animals come down to the river's edge to drink in this unspoilt wilderness. Game drives will take you far into remote and unfrequented areas of the park, and you can go on walking safaris, led by an experienced guide, which give you the opportunity to see different aspects of animal life and really touch the wild.
Mwagusi is a tiny, discreet bush camp owned and run by the charismatic Chris Fox who was born and bred in the region and knows Ruaha like the back of his hand. The old-style tented safari camp is set up deep inside Ruaha, beside a sand river which was chosen for its high concentration of wildlife. The 13 tents are pitched within thatched bandas, and, in traditional safari camp-style, have a dressing table, wardrobe, luggage rack and safari chairs. You get some great game viewing from the veranda at the front of each banda. You can go on game drives and we highly recommend the early morning nature walks.
"A wonderful experience. Would love to do it again."
Jongomero Camp is tucked away in a private corner of the remote Ruaha National Park, and the camp has its own airstrip so the only people you will meet will be other guests at Jongomero. The eight luxury tented rooms are spread along the banks of the Jongomero River, which, when it dries out in the dry season, becomes a natural game corridor and you can sit on your veranda and enjoy watching a variety of animals walking down the riverbed. Elephants and impala frequently wander past, digging into the sand, trying to tap into the water beneath the riverbed. The roomy interiors have been elegantly decorated in neutral safari colours, and wide solid wood beds sit on polished wooden floor boards. The en-suite shower rooms have hot and cold running water throughout the day. You can go on game drives or a guided walk to learn about tracks and signs of animals, and fly camping is now also an option at Jongomero.
Mdonya Old River Camp is a small, low-key bush camp standing on the wooded banks of the 'old' Mdonya River, which has not flowed in earnest since a newer path was carved by the river a couple of decades back. The sister camp to Lake Manze in the Selous, it is a simple bush camp offering a comfortable but principally back-to-basics experience of Africa. The en-suite meru-style tents all have a private deck, while the culinary emphasis is on tasty home-style cooking eaten beneath the stars. The camp offers good access to the superb Mwagusi River game-viewing circuit, and the old riverbed is an important wildlife passage. Animals pass through camp daily. Activities include game drives, and walking safaris and fly camping can be pre-booked at extra cost.
Kwihala Camp is a luxury tented camp combining adventure and style in a beautiful and game-rich area in the northern part of Ruaha National Park. The camp has been created to feel like a bush camp while maintaining a high level of comfort. There are six spacious tents with wooden beds and a large en-suite bathroom with bucket shower and flush toilet, and electricity is solar-powered. The main mess tent, open-sided and looking out across the bush, is stylishly decorated with comfortable sofas set around coffee tables and directors’ chairs. There is a small campfire area for pre-dinner drinks and dinner is served (weather permitting) under the stars. The guiding is excellent and activities include game drives in fantastic scenery away from the crowds.