Located in the centre of the historic triangle of Bagamoyo, Pangani and Zanzibar, Saadani National Park covers 1100km sq. It is the only wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania bordering the sea.
The climate is coastal, hot and humid. It offers a unique combination of both marine and mainland flora and fauna in a culturally fascinating setting, and about 30 species of larger mammals are present as well as numerous reptiles and birds. Besides many species of fish (over 40), green turtles, humpback whales and dolphins occur in the ocean nearby.
Saadani village once was an important harbour-town and slave tradingcentre in east Africa. Now it is a small Swahili fishing village with about 800 inhabitants whose livelihood is mostly fishing. Other villages adjacent to the park make their living through farming, especially coconut growing.
The humid savannah of Saadani National Park can be divided into three easily distinguishable types: tall grass savanna with herbaceous cover growing up to 2m and scattered palms, short grass grazing land (mostly situated on former sisal plantations) and black cotton plains where the clay soil creates particularly harsh conditions.
Tree cover is typically Acacia, which covers a large part of the park. In the tall grass savannahs are buffalo weighing up to 850kg and herds of hartebeests grazing in the park. Common waterbuck occur all over the park and can be easily recognized by the white ring around their rump. The density of reedbucks is especially high in Saadani National Park, although this medium-sized antelope (45kg) might be difficult to spot in tall grasses where they tend to lie down for shelter. Warthogs are omnipresent and even come into Saadani village as most of the villagers are Muslims, hence the warthogs have come to learn that they will not be harmed.
The tallest animal in the world and the national symbol of Tanzania is the giraffe, which are also numerous in Saadani. Their tongues have special callus plates which make them particularly well adapted to browse off spiny acacia trees. Large herds of white-bearded wildebeest graze in the short grass savannahs (released into the area in the 1970’s). Other introduced species include plains zebra and eland.
Lion, the largest of the African carnivores, is also found in Saadani although it is rarely seen. At night you may hear the hyenas and lion call or encounter genet cats, porcupines and civet cats. Other species which can be observed within the perimeter of the park are bushbucks, bush pigs, yellow baboons and vervet monkeys.
From East to West, the open ocean with coral reefs changes to brackish water ecosystem characterised by mangrove forest, salt pans and bare saline areas. Further inland, the Wami River is the most important fresh water source beside numerous temporary rivers and dams.
At low tide the sea retreats up a 100 metres to form a convenient passage for local people and wild animals. These beaches are the only place north of Dar-es-salaam where sea turtles still come to lay their eggs. The less known coastal forest is characterized by a high biodiversity with many plants occurring only in this area (endemics).
About Saadani National Park
Located in the centre of the historic triangle of Bagamoyo, Pangani and Zanzibar, Saadani National Park covers 1100km square. It is the only wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania bordering the sea.
Saadani National Park is easily accessed through Wami River from Bagamoyo. It is a 271km drive from Dar-es-salaam to Mandela village via Chalinze town. Scheduled and especially chartered flights are available from Dar or Arusha. One can also reach Saadani by boat from Dar-es-salaam, Tanga, Pangani, Bagamoyo and Zanzibar.
What to do
Explore the clean beach and the Indian Ocean and enjoy game viewing searching out the abundant wildlife
Visit the guarded and prime area for Green turtles breeding site. Sail up the Wami River and explore the Zaraninge coastal forest. Its a haven with over 220 species of birds including migratory birds. Visit Saadani’s historical sites and enjoy an excursion with a difference, participating in a ‘Swahili cultural tour.
When to go
It is advisable to visit the park during the dry seasons, however the park has lots of attractions all year round. July to October is the best time for flamingo watching in the salt pans.
Several semi permanent camps are available, and public camping is popular.