Ruaha National Park.
The game viewing starts the moment the plane touches down. A giraffe races beside the airstrip, all legs and neck, yet oddly elegant in its awkwardness.
A line of zebras parades across the runway in the giraffe’s wake. In the distance, beneath a bulbous baobab tree, a few representatives of Ruaha’s 10,000 elephants – the largest population of any East African national park, form a protective huddle around their young.
Size: 10,300 sq km.
Location: Central Tanzania, 128 km west of Iringa.
Getting there: Scheduled and/or charter fights from Dar es Salaam, Selous, Serengeti, Arusha, Iringa and Mbeya. Year-round road access through Iringa from Dar es Salaam (about 10 hours) via Mikumi or from Arusha via Dodoma.
What to do: Day walks or hiking safaris through untouched bush. Stone age ruins at Isimila, near Iringa, 120 km away, one of Africa’s most important historical sites.
When to go: For predators and large mammals, dry season ( mid-May-December); bird-watching, lush scenery and wildflowers, wet season (January-April). The male greater kudu is most visible in June, the breeding season.
Accommodation: Riverside lodge: three dry season tented camps: self-catering bandas and campsites. Outside the park there are also lodges.