Saanane National Park

Saanane National Park is Tanzania’s smallest and only national park located within the city limits. Saanane Island National Park is the second national park on Lake Victoria after Rubondo Island National Park. It was founded only for the purpose of saving the environment and natural resources, as well as giving education to the general public about the need to maintain natural resources and habitats. As a result, it was created specifically to meet the aforementioned needs. Saanane attracts a modest number of tourists compared to other well-known parks in Tanzania, and it is not well known for safaris like the Serengeti. It is the ideal park for a day excursion after visiting one of Tanzania’s major parks or while on a city tour in Mwanza.

Saanane Island National Park is regarded as one of Tanzania‘s most beautiful destinations, and it is highly recommended by all tourists who have visited the park island.

The park’s background

Saanane Island National Park: The Island’s owner at the time, Mzee Saanane Chawandi, was honored with the name Saanane Island National Park. Fisherman who became a farmer and then relocated to another island (after being compensated) in the early 1960s to allow for conservation initiatives. The Tanzanian government took possession of the island in 1964, making it the world’s first government-owned zoo. Its original size was 0.7 square kilometers and included both dry land and water. Saanane National Park, on the other hand, has annexed and contains two smaller islets, Chankende Kubwa and Chandkende Ndogo, all located in the southern half of the main island, bringing the total protected area to 1.32 square kilometers. Its primary goals were to increase interest in wildlife conservation and education, as well as to provide recreation to the residents of Mwanza. Various wild animal species were brought to the island between 1964 and 1966.

Saanane National Park
Saanane National Park

In 1964, the Saanane national park was established as an animal garden, but it was later designated as a national park in 2013. The government declared the area a national park as a consequence of a December 2012 agreement between the United Republic of Tanzania’s national assembly and the government, which sat together and agreed to expand the area from being a center for natural resources and environmental conservation to becoming a national park. The park set a record for being the first national park in the world to be located within a city, as well as the smallest national park in Tanzania and East Africa. The park’s aquatic area is home to a variety of fish species, primarily tilapia and Nile perch.

Location of the park

The park is 2 kilometers southwest of Mwanza, Tanzania’s second largest city after Dar es Salaam, which is located in the Gulf of Lake Victoria (Latitude 2.5 S and Longitude 32 E).

Saanane national park’s wildlife

The magnificent Lake Victoria is a fantastic tourist attraction. Impala, crocodiles, clawless otter, Rock Hyrax, Tortoise, spotted Hyena, Vervet and a shy monkey, Agama Lizards, usually known as Agama Mwanzae, and snakes, mainly pythons, are among the wildlife species found in the park. Dangerous animals such as rhinos, lions, and buffaloes are kept in cages, while others roam freely. Aside from larger mammals, the park is home to over 70 resident and migratory bird species, making it one of the greatest safari tourism destinations for birdwatching. Overlooking Mwanza South and Lake Victoria, Saanane Island National Park creates breathtaking views.

Best time to visit saanane national park

The best season for tourism activities such as wildlife viewing and picnic is from June through August, when the weather is dry. Also, from September to December, when the short rains begin, the foliage takes on a greenish hue being the best time for nature lovers.

Getting There

After arriving at mwanza city, the only way to get to Saanane Island National Park is by boat since the park is located at the island in Lake Victoria. Mwanza Airport is accessible by flight from Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi (Kilimanjaro Airport), Nairobi- Kenya, and Entebbe- Uganda. Also by road transport-Mwanza City is accessible by road from all parts of tanzania such as Dar es Salaam, Kigoma, and Tabora also from Uganda and Kenya you can get to mwanza by road transport. By ferry from Uganda, Bukoba, and adjacent islands to Mwanza Port, Mwanza City can be reached using any of these routes. From there, it’ll be a short drive or walk to the park’s entrance gate. After landing in Mwanza City, the island is reached via a regular 5-minute boat journey from the mainland’s Park Offices. The Park Offices are conveniently located around a 15-minute walk from the city center.

Attractions in saanane national park/what to expect

  • The National Park is located in a rugged metropolis dominated by large and weathered granite boulders that hang precariously overhanging and serve as the area’s defining features.
  • Mammals such as zebras, impalas, rock hyraxes, velvet monkeys, fish, water otters, and wild cats call it home. The existence of a shy “De-brazas monkey” adds to the park’s potential as the country’s only habitat for the species.
  • Crocodiles, Monitor Lizards, Agama Lizards, Pancakes, and Leopard tortoises, as well as snakes, particularly Pythons, are all common.
  • The National Park’s water area provides a better environment for a variety of fish, particularly tilapia and Nile perch. From an ecological standpoint, the Saanane Island area is one of the best breeding sites for crocodiles and fish in Lake Victoria.
  • Saanane Island is a bird watcher’s paradise, with over 70 bird species documented, including both resident and migratory birds that use the terrestrial and aquatic environments.
  • Local community (Sukuma) cultural dance performances at cultural centers such as Bujora provide a fantastically fascinating experience worth seeing if you want to learn about genuine African civilizations.

Tourist activities/ what to do in your safari to saanane national park

The park is a great destination for everyone to take a day trip during their Tanzania safari vacation because it has something for everyone. It is a fantastic spot for game viewing, sightseeing, and bird watching for nature enthusiasts. It’s also a great site for individuals looking for an exciting adventure like rock climbing or a tranquil experience like boat cruises, trekking, picnics, bush lunches, photography, filming, meditation, and fishing. The park is also appropriate for special occasions such as weddings, engagements, team building, family days, birthday celebrations, and team building activities, among others.

Sport fishing

Saanane Island National Park provides sport fishing for visitors or tourists who visit the park in selected spots within the park with an experienced guide to assist them and explain how to fish while wearing their fishing gear. The most commonly caught fish species while adopting the catch and release method during fishing are Nile perch and tilapia.

Game viewing

It is the common tourist activity in this park, Various and different park animal species can be seen during game viewing in Saanane Island National Park, such as the dik-dik, elephants, crocodiles, buffalos, wildebeest, zebras, impalas, rock hyrax, wild cats, warthogs, velvet monkeys, De-brazzas monkeys, and many others. During game viewing, you can still spot some of the bird species and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the area.

Bird watching

The park provides bird lovers with the most attractive and colorful bird species, making it Tanzania’s best birding safari destination. The best bird watching activity is usually done along the shores of Lake Victoria, which provides the best views of water birds. The park’s bird species number over 70, including resident, migratory, and water birds. The pied kingfisher, egrets, cormorants, fish eagles, hornbills, and many other birds can be seen in the park. Bird watchers are encouraged to bring binoculars to spot distant bird species and cameras to photograph various bird species to make their safari tour more outstanding and rewarding.

Boat riding

Because the park is located on the shores of Lake Victoria, tourists who visit the park often go boating. During the activity, tourists can see animal species such as crocodiles, hippos, and several fish species, as well as water birds. The activity lasts about an hour and a half and is guided by an experienced boat ride guide.

Saanane National Park
Saanane National Park

Nature walks

The park provides tourists with nature walks, which are done on foot while traveling around the park along authorized routes, giving you the opportunity to get closer to some of the park’s wildlife, including bird species, and giving you the finest experience in the park.


The park exposes visitors to the nature of the park’s night wilderness, and the island provides excellent camping services. Visitors bring their own tents and pitch them near the island, where they may enjoy the island’s most pleasant chilly breeze.

Accommodation/where to stay in your saanane national park safari

The park is only a few kilometers from the city, which means that it is extremely close to the city of Mwanza, allowing for a greater number of hotel options for travelers to enjoy their safari vacation. Mwanza City has many tourist hotels and guest homes; there are also resting huts on the island where guests can relax, and there is one public campsite in the park.