Saadani National Park
Saadani is where the beach meets the bush. The only wildlife sanctuary in East Africa to boast an Indian Ocean beachfront, it possesses all the attributes that make Tanzania’s tropical coastline and islands so popular with European sun-worshippers. Yet it is also the one place where those idle hours of sunbathing might be interrupted by an elephant strolling past, or a lion coming to drink at the nearby waterhole! Saadani National Park
Protected as a game reserve since the 1960s, in 2002 it was expanded to cover twice its former area. The reserve suffered greatly from poaching prior to the late 1990s, but recent years have seen a marked turnaround, due to a concerted clampdown on poachers, based on integrating adjacent villages into the conservation drive.
Herds of up to 30 elephants are encountered with increasing frequency, and several lion prides are resident, together with leopard, spotted hyena and black-backed jackal. Boat trips on the mangrove-lined Wami River come with a high chance of sighting hippos, crocodiles and a selection of marine and riverine birds, including the mangrove kingfisher and lesser flamingo, while the beaches form one of the last major green turtle breeding sites on mainland Tanzania.
Amani Nature Reserve
Amani Nature Reserve is located in East Usambara. One of the smallest and lowest ranges in the Eastern Arc, the East Usambaras are one of the most important in ecological terms, supporting some of the most extensive and least degraded montane forest in Tanzania.
Along with other similar forests in the country, the East Usambaras are cited as a Biodiversity Hotspot. Amani Nature Reserve is located within this range, protecting 10,000ha of reletively undisturbed forest. Contained within the reserve are many endemic species including the Usambaran Three-horned Chameleon and the famous African Violet (Saintpaulia).
The Visitor’s Centre is a short walk from the Sigi Guesthouse and contains details of the flora and fauna of the Usambara Mountains. There are seed samples and photographs of the more important species, and the centre also contains a section dedicated to local culture and crafts. In addition to the traditional methods there are examples of “green” technology for example fuel efficient stoves.
Mafia Island Marine Park
The Mafia archipelago forms part of the coral reef protecting the coast of Tanzania. It is situated about 130 km south of Dar es-Salaam and about 25 km from the mainland, looking towards the huge Rufiji delta which shaped the island’s conformation and influenced its ecosystem by supplying nutritional substances at the base of a complex food-chain. The archipelago is formed of a number of very large islands and small uninhabited coral atolls. Due to its position alongside the barrier, the island lies between the open sea with all its large oceanic fish, and the coast with the vast variety of fish that distinguishes the Indian Ocean coral reefs. The waters are warm and safe with huge inland bays; there is no problem with navigation thanks to the numerous sheltered places provided by the islands and the coral reefs.
The rich variety of vegetation is dominated by large palm groves. In some areas you will find baobab trees dotting the typical African savannah. The mangroves play an extremely important role by preventing coastal erosion. There are also fruit trees in many areas, mainly mango and cashew trees.
The archipelago’s wildlife is extremely varied: monkeys, small antelopes, wild pigs, lemurs, as well as a small colony of dwarf hippopotamuses. There are countless types of birds undergoing significant seasonal variations according to the passing migrants. Falcons and fish eagles build their nests on both the small and larger islands.