Ruaha River Lodge, Ruaha National Park
The Ruaha River snakes its way through the rocky outcrops and dry grasslands of Ruaha National Park, in the heart of southern Tanzania. Green woodland thrives along its banks, and during the dry season in particular (June to December) its waters quench the thirst of lion, elephant, leopard, cheetah and hyena, among many other species.
Set around a kopje right beside the river, Ruaha River Lodge offers close-up views of these animals as they come to drink and cool off from the day’s heat. Its 24 stone-and-thatch chalets are dotted along the bank beneath tamarind trees, each with a veranda overlooking the water where private dinners can be arranged. Inside your chalet you’ll find a comfortable sitting area with exposed stone walls, twin or double beds and a large bathroom with heated shower.
The lodge has two communal bandas — one set by the river and another perched high on a kopje looking down over two sections of the river. Here you can enjoy breakfast, farmhouse-style dinners or sundowners as hippo splash in front of you, crocodiles laze on sandbanks, and lizards and rock dassies scuttle over the sun-baked rocks.
During the dry season (July to October), head out on a bush walk with the lodge’s guides, who have an intimate knowledge of the park and its wildlife. Ruaha lies in an area where the wildlife of the northern and southern hemispheres overlap, so there are huge numbers of bird species (at least 530) and of plants (around 1,400) which your guide can help you to identify when out on foot.
Meanwhile, game drives give you a chance to see the park’s larger wildlife — both predators and prey. Herds of zebra, kudu, roan, sable and eland antelope graze nervously under the watchful eye of wild dog, lion, cheetah and hyena. Giraffe drift by elegantly, and herds of elephant make their way to the water’s edge.