Saadani National Park

Saadani is where the beach meets the bush. The only wildlife sanctuary in East Africa to boast for an Indian Ocean beachfront, it as well possesses all the attributes that make Tanzania’s tropical coastline and islands very popular with European sun-worshipers. Yet it is also the one place where those idle hours of sunbathing might be interrupted by an elephant strolling past, or a lion coming to drink at the nearby waterhole!

The Saadani National Park is home to a variable mix of both marine and mainland flora and fauna. The vegetation in the park is quite unique and includes mangrove forests around the winding Wami River and ocean, clumps of palm trees, coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, short and tall-grass savannah and the harsh black cotton plains.

In terms of wildlife, Saadani has a thriving population of waterbucks, wildebeests, hartebeests, reedbucks, buffaloes and giraffes. Warthogs, baboons and colobus monkeys are often spotted, while elephants, lions and leopards are quite shy. But even for ornithologists this place is truly spectacular. A boat safari on the Wami River is a true highlight for any visitor and apart from pods of hippos and huge crocodiles, malachite, pied and even giant kingfishers can also be seen. Other common birds include the woolly necked stork, common sand pipers, lilac-breasted rollers, palm nut vultures, fish eagles and ground hornbills.

Protected as a game reserve since the 1960s, in 2002 it was expanded to cover twice its former area. The reserve suffered greatly from poaching prior to the late 1990s, but in recent years a marked turnaround has been seen, due to a concerted clampdown on poachers, based on integrating adjacent villages into the conservation drive.

Today, a surprisingly wide range of grazers and primates are seen on game drives and walks, among them include giraffes, buffaloes, warthogs, common waterbucks, reedbucks, hartebeests, wildebeests, red duikers, greater kudus, elands, sable antelopes, yellow baboons and velvet monkeys.

Herds of up to 30 elephants are encountered with increasing frequency, and several lion prides are inhabitants, together with leopards, spotted hyenas and black-backed jackals. Boat trips on the mangrove-lined Wami River come along with a high chance of sighting hippos, crocodiles and a selection of marine and riverine birds, including the mangrove kingfisher and lesser flamingo. The beaches form one of the last major green turtle breeding sites on mainland Tanzania.

Saadani National Park