Our recent photo competition was won by Dave Cox, for his incredible picture of a stand-off between a lion and a herd of buffalo (pictured below). Him and his wife Jenny spent two weeks on safari in Ruaha, a remote national park in southern Tanzania. Here Jenny tells us all about their experience getting off the beaten track in one of Africa’s great wilderness areas….
I had always had a dream of visiting Ruaha as I had heard it was truly wild and untouched. Last year I finally persuaded my husband that it was about time that dream was realised. After numerous hours on the internet carrying out my own research, I phoned Imagine Africa and spoke to Matt, whose specialist knowledge and first-hand experience of the park helped our trip fall effortlessly into place.
After an overnight stay in Dar Es Salaam, we flew out to Ruaha and to our first camp, Mdonya Old River Camp. What an absolute treasure this camp is – a true bush camp with first-rate guiding, superb camp management and game in abundance (if, however, you’re after spas and splash pools this definitely isn’t for you). Over the course of six nights at Mdonya we enjoyed top-notch game viewing, spotting lions daily. On one unforgettable day we saw no fewer than twenty-three of these majestic felines as well as two leopards. There were elephants in abundance and on two separate occasions we saw rare wild dogs. What we loved most about Mdonya was the flexibility of the game drives; whether you want half or full day drives, it’s entirely up to you. Dinner is served alongside a dry riverbed where we regularly had views of elephants, giraffes and impala while we tucked into the delicious (and plentiful) food.
Our next port of call was Kigelia Camp, which is northeast of Mdonya and another brilliant spot for wildlife. It’s part of the Nomad Group who have a reputation for excellence, and this unique bush camp is certainly no exception. Kigelia is smaller than Mdonya and is another superbly run camp where the guiding is first class. As well as morning and afternoon game drives we went on an incredible night drive, where we saw an aardwolf and civet out hunting – a truly unforgettable sighting. The bush breakfast was a real highlight for us, alongside spotting elephants digging for water in the dry riverbed below the camp.
Of course it’s the wildlife that entices you to go on safari, but Ruaha isn’t just about the game viewing. We totally fell in love with the beauty of the place, especially the abundance of baobab trees. Ruaha is a very special place and gives you a wonderful sense of the wilderness, with far fewer visitors than we have encountered on other safaris. If you’re looking for a really raw safari experience away from the crowds, we would recommend Ruaha without an ounce of hesitation. We certainly hope to return one day and fall in love all over again.
All photos by Dave Cox