Saadani National Park
Saadani national park is situated on the shores of the Indian Ocean between Dar es Salaam and Tanga and it’s the only protected area where the bush meets the ocean because it’s bordering the sea with beautiful white sand beaches. The national park was established as a game reserve in 1962 and gazetted as a national park in 2002 and covers a total land area of 1,062 square kilometers which is comprised of ecosystems such as Wami River, vegetation types like mangrove forests, scattered palm trees, tall savannah, grassland with short grass among others. The national park harbors abundant wildlife including animals like waterbucks, reedbucks, warthogs, giraffes, wildebeests, hartebeests, buffaloes, elephants, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, red duikers, greater kudus, elands, sable antelopes, hippos, crocodiles, birds like giant kingfisher, ground hornbills, woolly necked stork among others.
Attractions in Saadani national park
Wildlife, Saadani national park acts as a habitat for different animals including elephants, buffaloes, wildebeests, hartebeests, lions, leopards, reedbucks, warthogs, spotted hyenas, black backed jackal, sable antelopes, giraffes, waterbucks, greater kudus, hippos, primates like yellow baboons, vervet monkeys among others. Wildlife in the park can be viewed during the game drive, boat safari and guided nature walk.
Birds, the national park is one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania with bird species ranging from marine, riverine and migratory bird species. Bird species that can be spotted include lanner falcon, bateleur eagle, mangrove kingfisher, African skimmer, African cuckoo hawk, long crested eagle among others.
Beaches, Saadani national park have beautiful beaches where you will get an opportunity to enjoy the amazing sun, see the breeding green turtles and other animals like elephants, lions, warthogs among others which roam the beaches.
Wami River, this is a water body that flows through the park and acts as a habitat for animals like hippos, crocodiles, bird species like fish eagles, kingfishers, hornbills among others.
Top things to do in Saadani national park
Game drive, this is one of the popular activities in the park that is carried out in the comfort of a pop up safari vehicle. Game drives in Saadani national park is best done very early in the morning so as to catch up with predators before going back to their hiding areas and it’s the best time to view animals when they are still active. During the game drive you will have great views of various animals like elephants, buffaloes, wildebeests, hartebeest, elands, giraffes, lions, leopards, waterbucks, greater kudus, warthogs, reedbucks among others.
Boat safari, boat safari is an exciting and adventurous activity in the park that is carried out on Wami River. The boat safari takes about 2 to 3 hours and during the activity you will be able to view beautiful scenery, hippos and crocodiles in water, elephants, buffaloes, lions, waterbucks, warthogs among others drinking water along the banks, Riverine bird species like giant kingfishers, malachite kingfisher, ground hornbills, fish eagles among others.
Bird watching, Saadani national park is one of the top birding destinations in Tanzania with bird species including migratory and Riverine bird species. Bird watching in the park can be carried out in mangrove forest, Wami River during the boat cruise among others and during birding you will be able to spot bird species like bateleur, crowned eagle, African fish eagle, greater flamingo, African cuckoo hawk, little bittern, pel’s fishing owl, African skimmer, lesser kestrel, goliath heron, purple heron among others.
Guided nature walks, this is an amazing activity that allows visitors to explore the park on foot with the company of an armed game ranger who is well conversant with walking trails. Nature walks in Saadani national park are best done early in the morning and late evening, during the activity you will explore mangrove forest where you will get close and personal with different butterfly species, bats, primates like vervet mokeys, yellow baboons, colorful birds among others. you will also be able to view animals like elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, wildebeests, elands, waterbucks, warthogs, enjoy the cool environment, breath fresh air, listen to sweet sounds of birds singing, take incredible pictures among others.
Where to stay on your safari in Saadani national park
There are a number of accommodations in Saadani national park where you can stay during the safari. The accommodation facilities range from luxury, midrange, budget and campsites including Saadani Safari lodge, Kisampa Bush Retreat, Saadani River lodge, Wami River Bush Retreat, Saadani Park hotel, Safari Mashariki lodge, The Roof of Saadani, Tent with a view, The Tides lodge, Sanctuary Saadani River lodge, Kijongo Bay Beach Resort among others.
Best time to visit Saadani national park
Saadani national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to October because during this period there is less rainfall in the park therefore vegetation will be thin hence giving you an opportunity to clearly view different animals grazing on the open plains. During the dry season trails in the park will be dry and passable therefore nature walks will be enjoyable compared to the wet season when the trails are muddy and slippery.
The national park can also be visited during the wet season in the months of March to May and November because this is the best period for bird watching where you will be able to view migratory bird species.
How to get to Saadani national park
Saadani national park can be accessed by both road and air transport means
Road transport means, when using road you will drive from Dar es Salaam passing through Chalinze to Mandera village and then connect to the park headquarters which takes about 3 hours drive. The national park can also be accessed from Tanga town via Pangani to Mkwaja gate which takes about 4 to 5 hours drive.
Air transport, Saadani national park can also be accessed by air transport means whereby you will book scheduled or charter flights from Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Zanzibar or Tanga to Saadani airstrip. Air flights to Saadani airstrip can be booked by your tour operator.