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.
Saanane National Park, the rocky Island in Lake Victoria was named after its former owner Mzee Saanane Chawandi, who was a farmer and fisherman. The Island was established as the first zoo in Tanzania in 1964 whose objectives were to promote interest in wildlife conservation education and provide recreation to Mwanza people. Between 1964-1968, the Island was stocked with an array of wildlife species, many of which were released into Rubondo Island National Park.
In 1991, the Government declared the Saanane Island as a Game Reserve to promote and strengthen conservation. It was fully fledged as the 16th National Park in July 2013, covering an area of 2.18 Km2 including aquatic environment, dry land. The Park is made up of other two smaller islets; “Chankende Kubwa” and “Chankende Ndogo”, which lie in the south. The Saanane Island is the smallest and first ever National Park located within Mwanza city Tanzania.
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.
The Park is located 2 km Southwest of Mwanza city centre, which lies in the Gulf of Lake Victoria (Latitude 2.5 S and Longitude 32 E).
Best time to visit
All year round is possible: birdlife is most varied and scenery greenest over November-March. June-August is the dry season and great for iconic, game viewing and rock hiking.
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.
Accommodation and other services
Mwanza city is awash with a number of hotels and guest houses to suit all client tastes and budgets
There is one public campsite in the Park
A shop selling refreshment has been opened in the Island National Park