Saadani National Park
The Saadani national park is the only park in east Africa which is situated on the beachfront of the Indian Ocean. It is a perfect blend of the national park animal life with the sun bathing beach resort of which Tanzania boasts many in numbers. The total area of the park is about 1,100 sq km and is located north of Dar es Salaam at a distance of approximately 100 km. The other major town is the port city of Tanga and lies in the north east at a distance of about 100 km. The road trip to the park from Dar es Salaam is four hours long although it is not a direct road along the coastline; instead it is a trip via Moshiba and covers a distance of 160 km. Similarly road access from Tanga is also available except on the rainy days. The aerial route from Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam via a chartered flight is still the best bet.
The park was protected as a game reserve since the early 1960s but in the year 2002 it was expanded twice its original size and also converted into a national park. As a result, nowadays a lot of grazers and primates can be seen walking along the paths and game drives. Among these animals the prominent ones are the wildebeest, hartebeest, warthog, giraffe, red duiker, common waterbuck, greater kudu, eland, yellow baboon, sable antelope and the buffalo. The expansion of the area resulted in a large area in the north called Mligaji being included in the park. This area has had a steady elephant population and hence the Saadani Park has increased number of elephants now and the groups of 30 odd elephants that roam the park now are a testimony to this statement. The park is also famous for its bird life and the indigenous vegetation.
The Saadani Park is also one of the places where one can enjoy a good Zanzibar holiday without having to go through a lot of trouble. This is because it is located directly opposite the stone town of Zanzibar at a distance of just about 27 km. The flight to the place does not take more than 15 minutes. The close proximity of the locations makes it one of the simplest yet interesting Tanzania Safari available to any tourist. The flora of the park mainly consists of woodlands of miombo and acacia apart from the coastal thickets. There is also a large area of mangrove swamps situated on the mouth of river Wami which is protected by the Saadani Park. The marine life off the shores of the park is also very interesting as the waters contain dolphins and occasionally even the whales are visible as they pass through the Zanzibar channel along their migration way. Also in the waters off the coast of Saadani one can find the endangered species of the green turtles. Steps are being taken at a conscious level to safeguard the turtles and their eggs from potential poachers in the waters.
The sheer diversity and the ease of accessibility make this park one of the most liked safaris in Tanzania. In addition to the wildlife the park also contains numerous sites of historical importance as can be witnessed along the routes and paths of the park especially along the coastline. There are remains of an old fort built by Arabs and also an old mosque of the 19th century. The port of Bagamoyo to the south was once the main port if Tanzania and was very instrumental in the slave trade with the west and Zanzibar.
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Saadani National Park Flora & Fauna
The combination of beach and big game is unique in Tanzania. Game numbers and visibility do not at present match the more popular parks in the north and south but, especially with the upgrade to NP status, the continued improvement in both aspects should continue. The diversity of animals is comparable to many parks, it is the numbers and accessibility which are currently increasing. 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 Location & Map
Saadani is geographically the closest reserve to Dar es Salaam (130km) and, even considering the present situation of impassable coast road, it is still a similar distance in terms of time to Mikumi NP, the next closest wildlife destination. Saadani offers an irresistible combination of beach and wildlife viewing, especially for families with children.
Saadani sits almost directly opposite Zanzibar’s Stone Town, located just 27 km away. Flights from Zanzibar to Saadani take just 15 mins, making both day trips as well as longer stays an appealing and easily accessible wildlife option from Zanzibar.
Fast Facts On Saadani National Park
Total Land Area
1,060 sq km About the same size as Hong Kong
Elevation above sea level
On the beach
Nearest Major City & Airport
About 308 km South
When To Visit Saadani National Park
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
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Saadani National Park
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