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.

Ruaha's unusually high diversity of antelope is a function of its location, which is transitional to the acacia savannah of East Africa and the miombo woodland belt of Southern Africa. Grant's gazelle and lesser kudu occur here at the very south of their range, alongside the miombo-associated sable and roan antelope, and one of East Africa's largest populations of greater kudu, the park emblem, distinguished by the male's magnificent corkscrew horns.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: lodges: tented camps sites, self-catering bandas.

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