Located in the Southeast Tanga region and Northeast Pwani region, Saadani National park is the only wildlife sanctuary bordering the sea (Indian Ocean). It is a place where the beach meets the bush. The conservation of Saadani started in the 1960s when the villagers who were residing in the area informed the Authorities to protect the wildlife that were facing poaching. It was first gazetted as a game reserve in 1968 and rose to national park status in 2005. It now has an area of 1064km2 including the former Saadani game reserve, the former Mkwaja Ranch area, the Wami River, and the Zaraninge forest. The Park is under the management of the Tanzania National Parks Authority.
Although Saadani National Park is relatively small compared to other protected areas in Tanzania, it is rich in natural biodiversity with over 30 species of large mammals recorded to its name. The most notable ones are the four of the big five animals (elephants, lions, leopards, and buffaloes), a decent population of zebras, giraffes, red duiker, bushbucks, and also marine animals like hippos, crocodiles, and waterbucks are seen in the water areas of the park. Saadani National Park is known to be an area with large herds of elephants, each herd consisting of 30 individuals. It is also a Lion Conservation Unit and a preservation area for the endangered green turtles. Marine and riverine birds like lesser flamingos and mangrove kingfishers are present specifically around the environs of the Wami river. Small primates such as yellow baboons and velvet monkeys call Saadani National park home.
How to get there
Saadani National Park is situated roughly 44km North of Bagamoyo town. The park is swiftly reached through the Wami River from Bagamoyo.
By road, the park can be reached through a 271km route from Dar-es-Salaam-Chalinze Town-Mandela Village. From Mandela to Saadani national park entrance, there is a gravel road of 61km. A 4×4 vehicle is required to use this route and we advised you to make car hire arrangements with any local tour operator for easy access.
Travelers on a budget can use public means that commute from Dar-es-salaam / Bagamoyo and Saadani village to Tanga City and Mkwaja village.
From Tanga city, Saadani is accessed by driving and crossing the Pangani River on a public ferry. It is approximately 3hours drive (130Km) on a bumpy route to the Park Entrance.
By air, Charter flights (light airplanes) are organized to Saadani Airstrip or Mkwaja from Dar-es-Salaam, Zanzibar, Arusha, Mwanza, and Manyara. The time taken varies on the distance between the Sadaani and the area you are taking your flight from, for example, a flight from Zanzibar to Sadaani only takes 15 minutes and from Dar-es-Salaam to Sadaani 30 minutes.
By Water, Saadani National park can also be accessed by boat from Zanzibar, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Pangani and Dar-es-Salaam.
Activities to do At Saadani National park
- Boat ride experience
Boating and canoeing on the different water features within Saadani national park are such enthralling experiences. The places to go boating are the Wami river and the ocean. A Boat ride experience at Wami River presents sights of crocodiles, hippos, and waterbucks half-submerged in water sunning themselves with their mouths open wide. Herds of elephants and buffaloes are also seen at the river banks loitering around. Marine birds like the lesser flamingos and kingfishers are encountered on the waters of River Wami
- Game drive
Game drives are unpopular due to the vegetation nature of Sadaani dominated by woodlands, oceanic grasslands, and mangroves. There is little open savannah grassland suitable for game drives. However, the little open grassland provides an exciting game viewing experience where wild mammals like elephants, lions, buffaloes, zebras, duikers, giraffes, warthogs, hartebeest, and many more are seen. Bird species like the glossy ibis, hammerkop, palm nut vulture, and lots of the magnificent lilac-breasted rollers are also enjoyed on this expedition.
- Historical and Fishing village tour
Expeditions to the ancient Saadani fishing village to encounter the remnants of architectural structures that existed when the area was a prominent port for the slave and ivory trade are arranged. The indigenous societies of Wazigua, Waswahili, and Wadoe can be visited on a cultural tour.
- Beach Holidays
Sadhana national park is where the bush meets the beach, travellers have an opportunity of enjoying the seaside of the park. This makes it one of the best spots for beach holidays in Tanzania. Along the Indian ocean and Wami river, there are a plethora of resorts for vacationers to enjoy a set of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, boat rides, camping, beach walks, reveling, and wining and dining.
The other attractions to enjoy on a beach holiday are the coral reefs which are breeding sites of the endangered green turtles, Mafui sandbanks, and the wild animals spotted in the virgin expanses of the park.
Best time to Visit Sadaani National Park
The park is open throughout the year but the roads are inaccessible in April and May which is known as the Wet season. The period of June through October, December, January, and February is the best time to view wildlife and also enjoy the sun at the beach.
There is a chain of accommodation establishments around Sadaani that appeal to all sorts of travelers from different parts of the world. Some of the notable places to stay at Sadaani include;
The Rest House near the beach consists of a sitting room, with a furnished sitting room, a master bedroom, three single rooms, and a fully equipped kitchen.
Bandas built on the shores, each with two rooms of four-bed occupancy. The single rooms do exist for couples with a detached kitchen equipped with cutlery, a gas cooker, fridge, and utensils.
Bandas are located along the beach, each with two rooms of four beddings and single rooms for couples with outside dining and a kitchen equipped with cooking gas, a deep freezer, and utensils. Around the bandas, there are campsites for travelers to pitch their tents.
Safari lodges to stay at while at Sadaani National Park are Saadani River Lodge, KISAMPA, Saadani Park Hotel, Tembo Kijani Lodge and A Tent with A View Lodge.