Tanzania is one of Africa’s top safari destinations. Boasting a diverse array of wildlife, fantastic safari experiences and brilliant guiding, it is easy to see why. Safari expert, Harry, gets off the beaten track in Tanzania, discovering the wonders of one of Africa’s best kept secrets, Ruaha National Park.
The lesser known national park of Ruaha is situated in the south of the country is Tanzania’s largest national park. Yet due to its remote location, it attracts around 5% of the visitors to the more famous Serengeti, further north, making it the ideal wilderness to explore on foot. This wonderful, untouched park is home to great game too; with a very healthy elephant and lion population. There are also leopard, cheetah, wild dog, kudu, giraffe, elands, sable and more, all roaming the park.
After being in Ruaha for a few days, it was not only the fantastic game that caught my attention but the incredible, ever changing landscapes of the park. Ruaha really is so diverse; from kopjes to flowing rivers, mountains to open plains, dry river beds to forests and baobab trees everywhere! I was curious to wander deeper into the park on foot to see what other surprises were in store there.
We had the opportunity to do a walking safari at Ikuka Safari Camp, one of a few properties that offer walking safaris in the National Park. On our first day, we set off on our three hour walk with our guide and park ranger at round 6:30am whilst the chill was still hanging in the air. Being on foot is such a different experience from wildlife viewing in a vehicle. Your senses certainly feel more alert as you stroll through the bush and listen to the sounds of nature. When walking, you are never going to see as much as you would in a vehicle but it’s all about experiencing the smaller things and really feeling like you’re in the wild rather than being cooped up on a game drive.
On the first hour or so of our walk, we learnt about a variety of interesting species such as termites, animal tracks, honey poaching, trees and plants as well as spotting an abundance of birds. With over 570 bird species to its name, Ruaha is a real birders haven.
As we approached the river, the smaller sightings quickly became incredible encounters. We stumbled across plenty of giraffe, kuduand herds of elephants from as little as 50 metres away. On foot, it was even more unforgettable and it really does get the adrenaline going! We were lucky enough to see three or four herds in a short space of time – including one of about 30! It was amazing to witness these giants grazing whilst on foot! After a three hour walk we ended with a surprise bush breakfast, set up amongst the kopjes where we enjoyed fresh fruit, coffee and a well-earned cooked breakfast. We later learned that a pack of wild dog killed two impala just metres away from our breakfast spot a few hours before!
A walking safari in Ruaha offers a really refreshing change to a vehicle safari, giving you the feeling of being more connected to the wild surroundings and adding in a bit of excitement! A real must do if visiting the park.