Saadani national park :  Saadani, one of Tanzania’s newest national parks, prides itself on being one of the few places in the nation where you can simultaneously enjoy the beach and observe wildlife. If you don’t have time to travel further away, it’s a decent option as an overnight vacation from Dar es Salaam city.

Saadani National Park is an 1100 km2 area in the middle of the ancient triangle formed by Bagamoyo, Pangani, and Zanzibar. It is the only wildlife refuge in Tanzania with a coastline. The weather is hot and muggy along the coast. It offers a distinctive fusion of both marine and land-based flora and fauna in an intriguing cultural environment. Along with a great number of reptiles and birds, there are about 30 species of big mammals. Along with numerous fish species (over 40), the neighboring ocean is home to green turtles, humpback whales, and dolphins.

The former Saadani game reserve, the former Mkwaja ranch area, the Wami River, and the Zaraninge Forest are all included in this 2005 gazette of a conserved ecosystem. The park’s boundaries are surrounded by a number of communities. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) managed the Zaraninge forest before it was turned into a national park with the intention of preserving the extraordinarily rich biological diversity of one of Tanzania’s last remaining coastal rain forests.

The wildlife in saadani national park

About 30 different kinds of large mammals, including elephants, lions, and buffalo, can be seen in the park. The vast herds of elephants that travel together have been an unexpected finding throughout the years. Although there may be fewer elephants overall and fewer herds in the park, there may be more elephants per herd here, making an elephant sighting here remarkable.

Saadani national park
wildlife in Saadani

There are numerous buffalo, giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, and healthy lion prides and herds of elephants, in addition to lesser antelope like red duiker and bush buck. A boat safari in this park is a nice bonus that always makes a trip to the park worthwhile. Enjoy your picnic lunch amidst amazing hippo pods and crocodiles lazing on the Wami River’s banks.

The Madete marine park, which is a section of the park and protects the endangered green turtle, increases the variety of this area further. The greatest time to see hatchlings is from July to September, and it’s amazing to see as the young turtles leave the beach where they were born and head straight towards the vast Indian Ocean, where they may not come back for up to 50 years.

Saadani national park Safari

This park is a highly diversified and unique location that may be explored by safari vehicles, on foot, by boat, and by the uncommon combination of salt flats, Indian Ocean, white sand beaches, Marine Park, river, and mangrove.

Best time to visit saadani national park

Here, wildlife tends to congregate around the different water holes dispersed around the park, so the dry season of late June through October makes it easier to detect species. The Green Season months of January and February, when many children are born, are also a great time to go.

Highlights/Tourist attractions in saadani national park

The park is located along the mainland shore, halfway between Tanga and Dar es Salaam (200 km, 4 hours). A diverse range of marine and land-based plants and animals can be found in the Saadani National Park. Mangrove forests surround the winding Wami River and the ocean, together with palm tree groves, coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, short and tall-grass savannah, and the arid black cotton plains.

Saadani is home to a healthy wildlife population, including waterbucks, wildebeests, hartebeests, reedbucks, buffaloes, and giraffes. Elephants, lions, and leopards are very wary, whereas warthogs, baboons, and colobus monkeys are frequently seen. However, even for ornithologists, this location is genuinely amazing. Any visitor will find a boat safari on the Wami River to be a great highlight, where they can view large kingfishers, malachite, pied, and even pods of hippos and enormous crocodiles. The woolly-necked stork, common sand pipers, lilac-breasted rollers, palm nut vultures, fish eagles, and ground hornbills are some other common species. Other attractions in saadani national park includes:

  • The Indian Ocean and a spotless beach

  • There is an abundance of wild creatures, including lions, elephants, giraffes, warthogs, yellow baboons, zebras, hartebeests, and wildebeests.

  • Breeding ground for green turtles.

  • River Wami

  • Seaside woodland at Zaraninge.

  • There are more than 220 bird species, including migratory birds.

  • Historic artifacts

  • Swahili tradition.

Tourist Activities at saadani national park

Game drives, boat safaris, and walking safaris accompanied by armed rangers are among the activities available in Saadani National Park. It is also possible to arrange historical visits to the old Saadani fishing town to see the buildings that formerly stood there when the area was a thriving port dealing in ivory and slaves. Even cultural excursions to the main local ethnic groups (Waswahili, Wazigua, and Wadoe) are available. Due to greater trade prospects, additional ethnic groups from other regions have also moved to the area. To make a living, the Wamang’ati, who are originally from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, send their livestock to Zanzibar in conventional dhows.

Saadani national park
Game sighting in Saadani

In contrast to other national parks in Tanzania, Saadani National Park allows visitors to combine a safari with a restful beach vacation. The beaches are spotless and have palm trees lining them. Swimming is enjoyable along Saadani’s coast due to the ocean’s typically warm (about 25°C) temperatures. Boat access to Maziwe Reef is simple from anywhere along the Saadani coast.

Saadani National Park is frequented by families as well as luxury and adventurous travelers. Public campsites, opulent lodges, and tent camps are all available forms of lodging both inside and outside the National Park. Tourist activities in summary:

  • boat safaris in the delta of the Wami River and the ocean where you will get a chance of seeing different wildlife such as Hippos, Nile crocodiles, mangrove vegetation and many other water loving species.

  • Visit the Madete area green turtle breeding place.

  • Visit Mafui Sand Bank Island, a sand bank where you can snorkel in the caverns with colorful fish and green turtles.

  • The island is open throughout the day and shuts in the evening. Choosing a location where you can eat lunch and sunbathe can promote the most relaxation.

  • You may get close to nature by taking a walking safari along Saadani’s natural pathways.

  • Early-morning game drive

  • During a night game drive, look for nocturnal creatures.

  • Enjoy the sunrise while relaxing on the purest of beaches around the Bagamoyo and Tanga shores.


Getting to saadani national park by road transport

About 44 kilometers north of Bagamoyo town is where you’ll find Saadani National Park. From Bagamoyo, the park is conveniently accessible by the Wami River. The park is also reachable through a 271-kilometer trip via Chalinze town from Dar es Salaam. Drive 61 kilometers on a bumpy road from Mandela to the Saadani Park entrance.

A daily public bus connects Tanga City and Mkwaja Village with Dar-es-Salaam, Bagamoyo, and Saadani Village. Additionally, it is a 561 km drive from Arusha to Saadani via Moshi-Segera-Tanga-Pangani OR Moshi-Segera-Kwamsisi-Mandela.

One can travel by car and take a public ferry across the Pangani River to get to Saadani from Tanga City. The 130 km (approximately 3 hours) travel to the park entry gate is on a difficult road.

Getting to saadani national park by air transport

Flights (light aircraft) to Mkwaja or Saadani airstrip can be scheduled from any location within the nation, including Arusha, Zanzibar, Mwanza, Manyara, Dar-es-Salaam, etc. The flight from Zanzibar Island to Saadani Airstrip takes around 14 minutes, and it is located about 40 kilometers from the park.

Getting to saadani national park by Water transport

From Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Pangani, Bagamoyo, and Zanzibar, one can travel by boat to Saadani. Traveling in the southern areas of the park can be particularly challenging during the rainy season (March–April) due to the muddy roads. Before leaving, it is wise to find out how the road is doing.

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