The Ugalla River in west-central Tanzania is a broad, slow-moving river of sandbanks, shallow pools, oxbow lakes, and swamps that winds its way in meandering loops westwards through a remote and almost forgotten world of extraordinary wildlife richness. It became a National park in 2019. It is just under 5000 sq. Km in area.
The river drains a vast landscape of shallow hills and valleys dominated by Miombo woodlands and tall grass savannas that are home to elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, giraffe, zebra etc., and also the largest herds of sable and roan antelope to be found in Tanzania. In the swampy stretches to the west are found the swamp-dwelling Sitatunga antelope, Cape clawless otters, and a host of exciting water birds such as shoe bill storks, wattled cranes, pygmy geese etc.
In the dry season lasting from July to October, these animals concentrate more and more on the Ugalla river and it becomes a place where exciting wildlife lies around almost every corner. Hippos and crocodiles abound in the river, and indeed the Ugalla River is reputed to have some of the largest crocodiles ever recorded in Africa. During the wet season, they are feeding on catfish and other fish but as the dry season progresses they supplement their diet with animals coming down to drink and may grow to over 21 feet in length.
Game viewing will focus mostly on the river itself following its endless twists and loops and beautiful overlooks. Groves of huge trees are scattered along the banks offering wonderful places to camp or perhaps just relax for a mid-day picnic or coffee break as you watch wildlife all around you. The Ugalla River flows slowly westwards beyond the boundaries of the National park into the complex waterways and wetlands of the Moyowosi Swamps, which will eventually drain into Lake Tanganyika. This vast and remote domain must surely be one of the greatest unexplored wildlife treasures of all of Africa.
Air. Ugalla is accessible at all times by private charter.
Road. The Park is accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles in the dry season from June to October.
The accommodation currently available is private camping arranged through TANAPA Headquarters in Arusha.
Ugalla National Park is centrally located between the National Parks Kigosi, Mahale, Katavi and Ruaha. It is wild and remote and makes a great complement to itineraries that feature National Parks within the southern circuit.