Saanane Island National Park
Saanane Island is a fully-fledged National Park since July 2013, covering an area of 2.18 sq km and consisting of three islets and an aquatic environment. The islets lie on the southern part of the main Island. The Park is located 2 km Southwest of Mwanza city center, which lies in the Gulf of Lake Victoria (Latitude 2.5 S and Longitude 32 E).
The park made a record of being the first-ever National Park to be located within the City and the smallest National Park in both Tanzania and East Africa. The Park is the home of mammals like Impala, Rock Hyrax, Velvet Monkeys, and Wild Cats.
The presence of “De-brazas Monkey” underscores its potential as the only Park in the country inhabiting the species. Reptiles are also dominant; they include crocodiles, Monitor Lizards, Agama Lizards, Pancake and Leopard Tortoises, Snakes particularly Python. The aquatic part of the Park inhabits a variety of fisheries life, mainly Tilapia and Nile Perch.
How to visit Saanane Island National Park
One can travel by road or air from either Dar es Salaam, Arusha Airport, or Kilimanjaro International Airports to Mwanza. Also, can travel by road or railway to Mwanza City from Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Kigoma, and Tabora. to mention a few. Moreover, people can travel by ship/vessel to Mwanza Port from Uganda, Kenya, Bukoba, and nearby Islands.
The Island is accessed by a regular short boat ride for about 5 minutes from Park Offices, on the mainland. Park Offices are easily accessed about 15 minutes short walk from the City Centre.
Saanane Island is ideal for game viewing, bird watching, rock hiking, boat cruise, walking, picnics, bush lunch, photographing/filming, meditation and sport fishing. Special occasions like weddings, engagements, team building, family days, and birthdays can also be organized.
History of Saanane Island National Park
Saa Nane Island was named after its previous owner, Mzee Saanane Chawandi, a fisherman who turned into a farmer and later shifted to another island (after being compensated) to pave the way for conservation efforts in the early 1960s.
The Tanzania government officially owned the island in 1964 as the first-ever government-owned zoo. Originally its territory measured some 0.7 square kilometers comprising both dry land and water.
However, Saa Nane National Park annexed and includes two other smaller islets known as Chankende Kubwa and Chandkende Ndogo both located in the southern part of the main island into the bargain, thus increasing its protected area to 1.32 square kilometers.
The main objective was to promote intense conservation education on wildlife and to promote recreation for the people of Mwanza.