Ruaha Hilltop Lodge, Ruaha, Tanzania

 The Hilltop Lodge isn't quite on the top of the hill, but it certainly is high enough to offer spectacular views across the vastness of Ruaha National Park. It's almost 100km by road from the large town of Iringa and, for the most part, the road is reasonable, even once you get off the surfaced part. It is, however, about 15km from the park gate.

The main lodge offers spectacular views, has comfortable space to relax with a drink or to dine indoors or out depending on the weather. There are monkeys around the lodge to either delight or annoy according to your preferences.

The bungalows are well appointed, large and comfortable. Our twin had three beds, a large double and two singles, giving plenty of room for us to spread ourselves out a bit. The bungalows are further up the hill - quite a steep hike, but worth it for the veranda views, which are spectacular.

The park is a vast expanse of true wilderness populated by huge quantities of game, but so big that finding the good views takes time. Ruaha will let you see  lion, leopard, cheetah, painted dogs and jackals. There are hundreds of elephants, giraffes and zebras, along with endless groups of impala and smaller game.

This lodge gets a seven. It's just a little too far from the park entrance, although the food and service are excellent.