Ruaha National Park, the second largest park in Africa, this week was named one of the “Best Winter Trips for 2013” by the National Geographic society of the US.
The park, located in the southern regions of Tanzania, is expected to be visited by travellers from different countries in the world to see the country’s exceptional blend of scenery of wildlife and human culture.
According to the latest report that was released by Karen Hoffman, President of the Bradford Group based in the US and made available to The Guardian, Ruaha has become one of the best winter trips due to its richness in wildlife, beauty and sanctuary.
Hoffman, who is also the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) representative in the US and Chanel LeMond, mentioned other criteria that made the park to be named the best as its wildlife, bird species and provision of the best quieter, wilder environment for exceptional game viewing and birding.
“As a TTB representative in the US, I wish to express thanks for the National Geographic for naming Ruaha National Park as best winter trips for 2013, which will help Tanzania to receive more tourists from the US and other countries,” Hoffman said.
She said Ruaha National Park, which is larger than Tanzania’s famous Serengeti National Park (home to the Great Animal Migration) is one of the country’s 15 parks and is known for its rugged and untouched terrain, having a high concentration of elephants and being home to over 571 species of birds.
The park’s Great Ruaha River, 300 miles long, is the lifeline of large mammals and has 38 species of fish.
Dr Aloyce Nzuki, Managing Director, Tanzania Tourist Board, commenting after Ruaha was recognized by National Geographic said: “This demonstrates that Tanzania is increasingly being recognized for its expanding safari product in the Southern and Western region.”
He added: “Ruaha National Park has become increasingly popular with US tourists who are looking for an off the beaten track experience,” he said.
Tourists are eager to visit Ruaha National Park, because it is the country’s second largest and biggest elephant sanctuary, he said.
The annexation of the neighbouring Usangu Game reserve has doubled its size and made it, after Zambia’s Kafue National Park, the second largest wildlife protection area on the continent.
It derives its name from the Great Ruaha River which flows along its eastern border, creating spectacular gorges, flowing into the Rufiji River.
On the other hand, the Great Ruaha is the home to crocodile, waterbuck, hippo, reedbuck and buffalos venture to the river’s edge to drink, attracting the attention of lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and wild dog or African hunting dog as they are sometimes called.
Also various antelope species such as eland, greater and lesser kudu, impala, sable and roan antelope, grant’s gazelle and the tiny dik-dik thrive in the grasslands bordering the river alongside giraffe, zebra, warthog, mangoose, porcupine, wild cat and civet are found there.
Information issued by the board indicates that birdlife is prolific, covering over 370 species that have been recorded, and some of which not found in the northern part of the country.
Eurasian migrants flock to Ruaha twice a year-March to April and October to November-joining the resident kingfishers, hornbills, sunbirds, egrets and plovers.
During the dry season from May to December, when animals are concentrated around the shrinking water-sources is the best months for game viewing, according to wildlife experts.
Apart from that, the park has an airstrip for light aircraft on the western bank of the river and getting there is up to a ten-hour drive or a one and half-hour flight from Dar es Salaam.
Ruaha National Park has remained virtually unchanged for centuries, originally covering 10,300sq km.