Saadani National park is the only of Tanzania’s national park or reserve located near the Indian Ocean. Gazetted as a national park, the park covers 1100 sq km today along the Indian Ocean beach including former Mkwanja ranch, Wami River and Zaraninge rain forest that occupies nearly 200sq km of the total park area.
The former Saadani game reserve was greatly endangered by poaching and human settlement before it was gazetted into a national park in 2002. The habitats include Wamu river delta, coastal shrubs and thickets, rainforests, marshland, coastal beach and others. The park is just 3 hours drive from Dar-es-salaam along Moshi road. Charter flights are available from Zanzibar and Dar-es-salaam airport.
Wildlife in Saadani park
The former cattle ranch is now a rich wildlife habitat with several large and small mammals including giraffe, buffalo, elephants, rare giant brown bats, eland, sable antelope, yellow baboon, vervet monkey, warthog, lions, common waterbuck, reedbuck, hartebeest, wildebeest, red duiker and greater kudu antelopes. The water dams within the ranch attract several animals in the dry season thus good game viewing opportunities. (January to February and June to August)
The river delta is toured on boat rides thus like muddy hippos and crocodiles are seen in the shallow river banks besides the various water birds that visit the area. Some of the birds seen here include king fisher, lesser flamingo, fish eagles and other visiting sea birds. The beach is a major breeding ground for sea turtles, humpback whales and dolphins. Some of these are seen on boat trips on the ocean where the tide is low.
There is one Tanzania safari lodge within the park-Saadani Safari Lodge. It has about 9 tented chalets overlooking the beachfront, fitted bathrooms, well furnished suite and restaurants. Other lodging options for Saadani National park include Kisampa Bush retreat and Tent with a View lodge.