The Saadani national park is the only park in east Africa which is situated on the beachfront of the Indian Ocean. It is a perfect blend of the national park animal life with the beautiful Indian Ocean beaches that Tanzania is famous for. The total area of the park is about 1,100 sq km and it is located north of Dar es Salaam at a distance of approximately 100 km. The other major town is the port city of Tanga and lies in the north east at a distance of about 100 km. The road trip to the park from Dar es Salaam is four hours long although it is not a direct road along the coastline; instead it is a trip via Moshiba and covers a distance of 160 km. Similarly road access from Tanga is also available except during heavy rains. The aerial route from Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam via a chartered flight is still the best bet.
The park was protected as a game reserve in early 1960s but in the year 2002 it was expanded to twice its original size and also converted into a national park. As a result, nowadays a lot of grazers and primates can be seen walking along the paths during game drives. Among these animals the prominent ones are the wildebeest, hartebeest, warthog, giraffe, red duiker, common waterbuck, greater kudu, eland, yellow baboon, sable antelope and the buffalo. The expansion of the area resulted in a large area in the north called Mligaji being included in the park. This area has had little poaching and good conservation work and hence the Saadani Park has increasing number of elephants now and the groups of 30 odd elephants that roam the park now are a testimony to this statement. The park is also famous for its bird life and the indigenous vegetation.
Saadani is also one of the places where one can enjoy a good Zanzibar holiday without having to go through a lot of trouble. This is because it is located directly opposite the stone town of Zanzibar at a distance of just about 27 km. The flight to the place does not take more than 15 minutes. The close proximity of the locations makes it one of the simplest yet interesting Tanzania Safari available to any tourist. The flora of the park mainly consists of woodlands of miombo and acacia apart from the coastal thickets. There is also a large area of mangrove swamps situated on the mouth of river Wami which is protected by the Saadani Park. The marine life off the shores of the park is also very interesting as the waters contain dolphins and occasionally even whales are visible as they pass through the Zanzibar channel along their migration route. Also in the waters off the coast of Saadani one can find the endangered green turtle. Steps are being taken at a village level to safeguard the turtles and their eggs for future generations.
The sheer diversity and the ease of accessibility make this park one of the most unique safari destinations in Tanzania. In addition to the wildlife the park also contains numerous sites of historical importance as can be witnessed along the routes and paths of the park especially along the coastline. There are remains of an old fort built by Arabs and also an old mosque of the 19th century. The port of Bagamoyo to the south was once the main port if Tanzania and was very instrumental in the slave trade with the west and Zanzibar.