Saanane Island National Park
Saanane Island is a fully fledged National Park since July, 2013, covering an area of 2.18 sq. km comprises of three islets and aquatic environment. The islets lie on the southern part of the main Island. 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. The Park is located 2km Southwest of Mwanza city centre, which lies in the Gulf of Lake Victoria (Latitude 2.5 S and Longitude 32 E).
One can travel by road or air from either Dar es Salaam or Kilimanjaro International Air Ports 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 an ideal place for game viewing, bird watching, rock hiking, boat cruise, walking, picnics, bush lunch, photographing/filming, meditation and sport fishing. Special occasions like wedding, engagement, team building, family day and birthdays can also be organized. Saanane Island National Park is the first National Park to be located within the City and second in Lake Victoria after Rubondo Island National Park. Saanane Island National Park was named after Mzee Saanane Chawandi who was then the owner of the island. It was established as the first Zoo in Tanzania in 1964. Its main objectives were firstly to promote interest and conservation education in Wildlife, secondly was to promote recreation to the people of Mwanza town. Between 1964 and 1966 different species of Wild animals were ferried to the Island. These included: Buffalo, Bushbuck, Dik Dik, Elephant, Eland, Impala, Black Rhino, Topi, Warthog, Wildebeest, Zebra, and Monkeys like Patas and Vervet, Giraffe, Porcupine and Crocodiles.
Dangerous animals like Rhinos and Buffaloes were caged while others were in free range. The Island was given the status to be Game Reserve in 1991.The great Lake Victoria forms amazing attraction sight. Wildlife species like Impala, Crocodiles, Clawless otter, Rock Hyrax, Tortoise, Agama Lizards (Agama Mwanzae) and Snakes particularly Python. Others include Lion, spotted Hyena Vervet Monkeys and a very Shy De Brazza’s Monkey. About 40 species of residents and migratory birds are common in the Island. Saanane Island National Park forms spectacular scenery over Mwanza South and Lake Victoria.
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 1960’s. 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 and conservation education in wildlife and to promote recreation to the people of Mwanza.
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE ISLAND
All year round, birdlife is most varied and scenery greenest over Nov-March. June-August is the dry season and great for picnics, game viewing and rock hiking.