Located next to the shores of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya, Ruma National Park is a mosaic of green woodlands, rolling savannahs, and towering cliffs. In this heavily populated and cultivated landscape, the park is an isolated island of wilderness that provides Kenya’s last sanctuary for the endangered roan antelope. Ruma also provides a home to some spectacular birdlife, including the globally threatened blue swallow. Not to mention a host of charismatic megafauna such as rhinos, buffalos, and giraffes. Less well known than Kenya’s more famous parks, Ruma offers something different and a wilder, less well-travelled adventure.
Average rating: 4.0 (very good)
Average cost: it costs $20 for non-residents to enter the park.
Best time to visit: Ruma can be visited year-round, but wildlife viewing is best in the dry months from June to October and January to February.
How to get there: the main gate into the park is around 42 km from Homa Bay. For further details see here.
Typical activities: bird watching, wildlife watching
Number of reports: 1
WILDLIFE IN Ruma
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the most popular species that can be seen here are:
Roan antelope – 0% OF WILDSIDE USERS (0/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
Over the past few decades, the number of roan antelopes in Kenya has declined dramatically. From an estimated 202 individuals in 1976, there are now only 19 remaining. Today, all of Kenya’s roan antelopes are found in Ruma National Park. Studies suggest that conservation measures such as introducing antelope from other countries, stopping poaching, reducing predation, and improving habitat are urgently needed to protect this population. And if undertaken successfully, these measures could boost numbers up to 550.
Given the low number of antelopes it can be difficult to find them in the park. A study of the antelope in Ruma found they are mainly active in the morning and late afternoon, they are usually found within 2 km of a surface water source, and they are mainly found within grassland habitats where they feed in areas of short green grass.
Cape buffalo – 100% OF WILDSIDE USERS (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
Cape buffalos are also found in the park – the only member of the ‘Big Five’ alongside rhinos. Buffalos are relatively easy to spot although they are the main animals to watch out for in terms of safety. Give them plenty of space if you do see one. Cape buffalos have a reputation for suffering a severe lack of humour, taking on anything they dislike. They can charge at great speed when they feel threatened – making them the most feared animal on any safari!
Giraffe – 100% OF WILDSIDE USERS (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
Alongside roan antelopes, another big draw of Ruma is the chance to see the endangered Nubian (also known as Rothschild’s) giraffe. There are an estimated 170-200 giraffe in the park and the population is increasing. These large numbers mean sightings are pretty likely. Studies of the park (and reports on TripAdvisor) suggest that large herds of giraffe are commonly encountered in the park. The largest on record being over 70 individuals!
Rhino – 100% OF WILDSIDE USERS (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
In 2011 a population of 21 black rhinos were successfully translocated to Ruma and the park was declared a rhino sanctuary. The aim was to help boost Kenya’s population of this endangered species as well as to attract tourists to a less well known national park. A study in 2019 found that the rhino population in the park was healthy and growing, and could support up to 65 individuals. Reports suggest that the airstrip within the park is a good place to look out for these charismatic beasts.
Photo credit: Michiel Van Balen under a Creative Commons licence from Flickr