Most Unique Saadani National Park
Saadani Game Reserve was gazetted in 1964, covering an area of some 350 sq km from the Wami river in the south to the Mligaji river in the north, with the Arusha-Dar es Salaam railway line as the western boundary. Wildebeest, zebra and eland joined the resident populations including buffalo, elephant, giraffe, lion wild dog and the extremely rare Roosevelt’s sable antelope. Saadani is Tanzania’s only protected coastal wildlife preserve. i.e. only park with beach experiences. The reserve has since expanded to include a further 300 sq km of land north of the Mligaji. This is an important area containing the only permanent elephant population in the area as well as sable antelope. To the west of the old boundary lies the Zaranyingi forest, another important area for its variety of indigenous vegetation and animal and birdlife. This is also now included in the Saadani boundaries, creating a substantial reserve of 1,100 sq km (430 sq miles). In 2002 Saadani was gazetted to become Tanzania’s 13th National Park and it is hoped that the upgrade to National Park status will bring improved infrastructure development, access and anti-poaching activities, as well as the reintroduction of few animal species from other country’s parks.
Saadani is geographically the closest reserve to Dar es Salaam (130km) and Zanzibar, even considering the present situation of no coast road, it is still a similar distance in terms of time to Mikumi National Park, the next closest wildlife destination. Saadani is the closest wildlife destination to Dar and Zanzibar especially for families with children, will offer an irresistible combination of beach and wildlife viewing. Saadani also sits almost directly opposite Zanzibar’s Stone Town, located just 27 km away. Flights from Zanzibar to Saadani take just 15 minutes, making both day trips as well as longer stays an appealing and easily accessible wildlife option from Zanzibar, Arusha or Dar es Salaam.
Saadani is where the beach meets the bush. The combination of beach and big game is unique in Tanzania. It is only wildlife sanctuary in East Africa to boast an Indian Ocean beachfront, it possesses all the attributes that make Tanzania’s tropical coastline and islands so popular with European sun-worshippers. Yet it is also the one place where those idle hours of sunbathing might be interrupted by an elephant strolling past, or a lion coming to drink at the nearby waterhole! Game numbers and visibility do not at present match the more popular parks in the north and south but, especially with the upgrade to National Park status, there is improvement in both aspects. The diversity of animals is comparable to many parks but numbers. Large game currently seen include giraffe, buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, sable antelope, eland, hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck, reedbuck, greater kudu, Oryx, warthog, mongoose, civet, serval, baboon, black and white Colobus, crocodile, hippo, three species of duiker as well as a great variety of birdlife. Saadani is dominated by acacia woodland, coastal thickets and miombo woodland. It also protects a large area of mangrove swamps around the mouth of the Wami river on the south boundary, and includes several species of palm including the mysterious looking ‘walking palm’, not actually a palm at all! Dolphins are sometimes seen offshore and whales pass through the Zanzibar channel on their migration. Of particular interest is the green turtle project at Madete, this endangered species is under particular threat from fishing practices offshore from Saadani and a conservation project has been established to help protect both turtles and their eggs.
Saadani National Park (SANAPA) is accessible by road, air and boat. Driving time from Dar es Salaam is roughly 4 1/2 hours. Pangani is about 1 hour drive north and from Arusha is a 6 hour drive. Saadani is the closest National Park to both Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. By air can take roughly 20 minutes from Zanzibar and 30 minutes from Dar.
When to visit:
Generally accessible all-year round, but the access roads are sometimes impassable during April and May. The best game-viewing is in January and February and from June to August. For more details contact us