Saanane Island National Park

Saanane Island national park is the second national park in Tanzania located on the shores of Lake Victoria after Rubondo island national park and it’s the first protected area within Mwanza city in Tanzania. The national park was first established as the first zoo in 1964 mainly to promote interests of wildlife, to protect conservation education, and to promote recreation to the people of Mwanza town. Between 1964 and 1966 different types of animals like buffaloes, bushbucks, elephants, impala, rhinos, Dik Dik, wildebeests, zebras, topi, warthogs, giraffes, porcupines, crocodiles, primates like patas monkeys, velvet monkeys among other were ferried to the island and the dangerous animals were caged whereas other were in free-range. In 1991 Saanane Island was declared a game reserve by the government to promote and strengthen conservation and later in July 2013 it was given a status of a national park. Saanane national park covers an area of 2.18 square kilometers which makes it the smallest national park in Tanzania and it’s composed of small islets, Chankede Kubwa and Chankede Ndogo, massive granite boulders and wildlife species including mammals like zebras, impalas, rock hyrax, wild cats, primates like velvet monkeys, De-brazzas monkeys, reptiles among others.  Saanane island national park was named after Mzee Saanane Chawandi who was the owner of the island and used to be a local farmer and fisherman.

Saanane Island National Park

Attractions in Saanane Island National Park

Wildlife, Saanane island national park harbors various wildlife species including mammals like buffaloes, warthogs, dik dik, bushbucks, elephants, wildebeests, black rhinos zebras, impalas, rock hyrax, wild cats, primates like velvet monkeys, De-brazza’s monkey, colobus monkeys , reptiles like leopard tortoise, crocodile, monitor lizards, agama lizard, pythons among others.

Birdlife, Saanane national park is one of the birding destinations in Tanzania with more than 70 recorded bird species including resident bird species, migratory birds and water birds. Common birds to spot include African darter, African grey parrot, pied kingfisher, egrets, cormorants, fish eagles among others. 

Things to do in Saanane Island National Park

Game viewing, this is one of the popular activities in the park where you will be able explore the national park with stunning views of different animals such as elephants, buffaloes, bushbucks, wildebeests, zebras, impalas, rock hyrax, wild cats, warthogs, dik dik, crocodiles, primates like velvet monkeys, De-brazzas monkeys, view different bird species, enjoy views of the beautiful scenery among others.  

Bird watching, Saanane national park is one of best birding destinations in Tanzania with more than 70 bird species including migratory, aquatic and many residents such as hornbills, kingfishers, fish eagles, cormorants, flamingos among others

Boat ride, the national park also offers exciting boat rides where you will get an opportunity to cruise on Lake Victoria which is the largest fresh water lake in Africa. Boat rides in the park can either be done in the morning hours or in the afternoon and during the boat cruise you will be able to view herds of hippos and crocodiles in water, view other animals along the water banks, enjoy great views of the sunrise or sunset, view colorful bird species like kingfishers, fish eagle, bee-eaters among others. 

Guided nature walks, this is one of the incredible activities where visitors get an opportunity to explore the park on foot with the company of an armed park guide. During the guided nature walk visitors will have great views of the lake, beautiful scenery, get up close and personal with animals in their natural habitat, view colorful bird species, butterflies, enjoy the cool breeze, relax your mind in a quiet environment, take great photos among others.

Sport fishing, Saanane island national park offers sport fishing activity which is done in designated area with an experienced guide and recommended fishing gears. During sport fishing you will be able to catch different fish types such as Tilapia, Nile perch among others by the use of catch and release method.

The national park also offers other interesting activities like camping, picnics with friends and family, photographing or filming, rock hiking, bush lunch where visitors get an opportunity to enjoy delicious dishes in the bush among others.  

Best time to visit Saanane Island National Park

Saanane island national park can be visited all year round though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to October and December to February because that is the period when vegetation in the park is less which allows you to have spectacular views of wildlife species and also the best time for walking safaris because hiking trails will be passable.

Saanane island national park can as well be visited in the wet season during the months of March to May and November because that is the best period for bird watching where visitors will be able to view different migratory birds and colorful butterfly species.

Saanane Island National Park
Saanane Island National Park

Where to stay during your safari in Saanane Island

There are a number of accommodation facilities near Saanane island national park where you can stay during the safari. The accommodations range from luxury, midrange, budget and campsites including Gold crest hotel, Waghill lodge, Ryans Bay hotel, Malaika Beach resort, Victoria Palace hotel, Hotel Tilapia, Lessa Garden hotels, Samanene Beach hotel, Rocky Bay Resort and camping, Isamilo lodge and spa, Adden Palace hotel,  Dreezy hotel, Pentagon hotel, Royal Sunset Beach hotel, Lamada Roch Beach Mwanza, Mango Village, Bwiru Village Home Stay among others. 

How to get to Saanane Island

Saanane island national park is located in the southwestern part of Mwanza city and can be reached by air and road transport means

  • Road transport, when using road you will drive from Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Kilimanjaro or Tabora to Mwanza and then to the park headquarters.
  • Air transport means, when using air transport you will book scheduled or charter flights from Dar es Salaam or Kilimanjaro to Mwanza airport and then connect to the park headquarters.

The national park can also be accessed by boat where you will board a ferry from Uganda, Kenya or Bukoba.

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