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The Diverse Saadani National Park

Saadani National Park is becoming increasingly popular because if it's easy access from Dar Es Salaam. The park has the Indian Ocean as one if its borders and therefore offers a unique opportunity to experience bush and sea at one location.Large game currently seen include giraffe, buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, antelope, zebra, hyena, mongoose, monkeys, crocodile, hippo as well as a great variety of birdlife.

In 2003 Saadani gained National Park status and the boundaries were expanded to include land to the north of the Mligaji, which is an important area containing the permanent elephant population. The forest in the Park is noted for its variety of indigenous vegetation and birdlife. The total protected area now covers over 1000 sq km.Saadani also sits directly opposite Zanzibar's Stone Town, located a short 27 km away making day trips to Zanzibar possible. The flight takes 15 minutes only ? making this location an exciting place to experience diverse aspects of Tanzania without having to travel huge distances.

Saadani is dominated by acacia woodland, coastal thickets and miombo woodland. It also protects a large area of mangrove swamps around the mouth of the Wami River on the south boundary, and includes several species of palm including the mysterious looking 'walking palm', not actually a palm at all!.Dolphins are occasionally seen offshore and whales pass through the Zanzibar channel on their migration. Under particular threat from fishing practices - offshore from Saadani -are the endangered green turtles and a conservation project has been established to help protect both turtles and their eggs.Saadani Village is located in what is historically a very important coastal area.

It is sandwiched between Pangani to the north where many believe the ancient trading site of Rhapta, was sited and it became important once again as the main terminus for slave caravans heading to Lake Victoria in the 19th century. To the south is Bagamoyo, which was once the main port for Tanzania and Dr. Livingstone entered into Africa from this point. Once up to 50,000 slaves were shipped annually to Zanzibar from Bagamoyo.

Saadani village also contains a ruined fort, built by Arab slavers in the last century. This fort later became a German Administrative Center after 1888. There is a further ruin in the village of a mosque built in the mid 19th century.The park is especially popular with families with children, as it offers an irresistible combination of beach and wildlife viewing.

The combination of beach and big game is unique in Tanzania and although game numbers and visibility do not match the Serengeti or the Selous with the continued improvements being made these aspects should continue to improve. The diversity of animals is comparable to many parks; it is the numbers and accessibility which need to improve.

.For more information on any of these subjects visit http://www.tanzania-info.co.

uk and also for tourism and cultural issues see http://www.betheladventure.co.uk ? Using tourism to change lives.

By: Ian Williamson

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