Saanane Island national park



                        Saanane Island national park

Saanane Island national park 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.

Location of Saanane Island national park

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).

Saa nane national park is located on an island that is situated next to the city of Mwanza and on the waters of Lake victoria – on the Tanzanian side. It is reachable by a short – 5 minute boat ride from the nearby TANAPA offices located on the mainland, with a fee being charged for entry and the whole tour. Its smaller sister islands are located nearby and within view, but entry to these parts is prohibited. For more information on the location please click to activate the interactive map below.


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.

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 Ndogoboth 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

Saa nane national park is a small man made wildlife sanctuary that is located on an island, on Lake victoria. It was previously a normal Island that was wholy owned by a fisherman and later turned farmer – Mzee Saanane Chawandi, before being turned into a zoo by the then Tanganyika government. Its previous owner was compensated and given another island nearby to move to.

Conservation efforts began in the early 1960’s and later on a few wild animals were moved onto the island such as buffalo, bush-back, dik dik, elephant, eland, impala, black rhino, topi, warthog, wildebeest, zebra, monkeys, giraffe, porcupine and crocodiles with the more aggressive animals like rhinos being caged. It officially opened in 1964 with the main aim of serving as a recreation spot for the people of nearby Mwanza.

Originally its territory measured some 0.7 square Km and was comprised mainly of the island and the waters around it. As a wildlife sanctuary, the waters around the island became heavily populated with many species of fish, causing a rise of unwanted activities such as illegal fishing from locals who would fish as close to the island’s boundary as possible. The other islands nearby also became home to criminal hideouts and activities along with environmental pollution prompting a lot of periodic intervention from local governments who unlike TANAPA lacked the skills and manpower.

Due to this, the Islands reserve was increased to include neighbouring islands – Chandkende kubwa and Chandkende ndogo which all fell under TANAPA who manage to curb the illegalities with ease.Later on in 1991, the island stopped being a zoo with most of the animals being either let loose on the island or released into other national parks as its status changed into a National park.

Saa Nane national park is currently the smallest national park in the country and also one of two that are located on an island of Lake Victoria, with the other being Rubondo island. It currently is a tranquil getaway for people wanting to get closer to nature, allowing them to go on a short walking safari though its grounds. The island has no accommodation but permits use of its grounds for quiet family picnics or events all of which require the payment of a fee.

There still are quite a number of animals inside the park, most of whom can be spotted roaming freely. The island also provides unprecedented views of the city nearby and the waters of the lake, making it a perfect location for sight seeing or picture taking.

AbbreviationsTANAPA – Tanzania National Parks