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Saanane Island National Park, Tanzania

Established as a national park only in 2013, Saanane is located a couple of kilometers southwest of Mwanza town, on lake Victoria. It is the smallest national Park in East Africa and the only park to be located right in the city, but one can still come across many interesting species of impalas, bushbucks and monkeys (it is the only park that hosts a big population of de Brazas monkeys), as well as several wild cats. Saanane also has a great variety of reptiles, such as crocodiles, lizards, tortoises and snakes (pythons in particular). It is interesting to know that, in fact, in the 60s the park was initially planned as a wildlife zoo, and all the animals were transported to the island from the mainland, including the wildebeest, several lions and hyenas. Those several decades that these animals spent on an isolated island, surrounded by water, allowed them to create a unique ecosystem and biodiversity of Saanane that makes this park so special and marvelous.

 

 

The dry season between June and late August is good for game drives and hiking, whereas November-March has the best weather for birdwatching. The park is frequently used to organise weddings, outdoor parties or company retreats, and its proximity to the city allows you to spend the night with comfort in one of the hotels in Mwanza and then return to wildlife viewing in the daytime. Saanane is a perfect picnic site and hiking spot for outdoor enthusiasts who do not want to go too far away from the city and modern facilities.

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