Experience Tanzania’s Latest National Park

In 2003 Saadani was upgraded to become Tanzania’s latest National Park under the direction of TANAPA (Tanzania National Park Authority). Boundaries have been expanded to include land north of the Mligaji, which is an important area containing the only permanent elephant population in the area as well as sable antelope. The total protected area now covers over 1000 sq km and the TANAPA headquarters are based at Mkwaja ranch.

Saadani is geographically the closest reserve to Dar es Salaam (130km) and, 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. Construction of the coast road from Dar es Salaam is underway and once completed, this will reduce driving time to around two hours from Dar making Saadani the closest wildlife destination to Dar offering an irresistible combination of beach and wildlife viewing.

Saadani sits directly opposite Zanzibar’s Stone Town, which is located approximately 42 kilometres away. Regular flights are available from Zanzibar to Saadani and these only take about fifteen minutes. Visitors to Zanzibar will find an excellent choice of Zanzibar hotels and most other types of Zanzibar accommodation, including villas and lodges.

The combination of beach and big game is unique in Tanzania. Whilst the diversity of animals is comparable to most parks, it is the numbers and accessibility that TANPA, the Tanzania National Parks Authority has been working on. The large game animals currently seen in the Saadani National Park include giraffe, buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, sable antelope, eland, hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck, reedbuck, greater kudu, warthog, hyena, mongoose, civet, baboon, crocodile, hippo, three species of duiker as well as a great variety of birdlife.

Saadani is dominated by acacia woodland and coastal thickets. It also protects a large area of mangrove swamps along the coastline North from the Wami river, and includes several species of palm including the mysterious looking ‘walking palm’, which is 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 Marine Reserve. 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.

One of the best methods of experiencing the Saadani National Park is to use one of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) approved tour guides who will be able to offer a choice of Tanzania Safaris, as well as recommending places to stay during your visit.