Saanane Island National Park was named after Mzee Saanane Chawandi who was then the owner of the island. It was established as the first Zoo in Tanzania in 1964. Its main objectives were firstly to promote interest and conservation education in Wildlife, secondly was to promote recreation to the people of Mwanza town. Between 1964 and 1966 different species of Wild animals were ferried to the Island.
These included: Buffalo, Bushbuck, Dik Dik, Elephant, Eland, Impala, Black Rhino, Topi, Warthog, Wildebeest, Zebra, and Monkeys like Patas and Vervet, Giraffe, Porcupine and Crocodiles. Dangerous animals like Rhinos and Buffaloes were caged while others were in free range. The Island was given the status to be Game Reserve in 1991.
The great Lake Victoria forms amazing attraction sight. Wildlife species like Impala, Crocodiles, Clawless otter, Rock Hyrax, Tortoise, Agama Lizards (Agama Mwanzae) and Snakes particularly Python. Others include Lion, spotted Hyena Vervet Monkeys and a very Shy De Brazza’s Monkey. About 40 species of residents and migratory birds are common in the Island.
Saanane Island National Park forms spectacular scenery over Mwanza South and Lake Victoria.
• 0.5sq Km and it is located 2km southwest from the City Centre, which lies in the Gulf of Lake Victoria (Latitude 2.5 S and Longitude 32 E).
• Saanane Island National Park is accessed by boat. One can travel by air to Mwanza Airport from either Dar es salam, Arusha, Moshi (Kilimanjaro Airport), Nairobi and Entebe. By road to Mwanza City from Dar es salaam, Kigoma, Tabora. By Ferry to Mwanza Port from Uganda, Bukoba and nearby Islands. All these ways will lead you to Mwanza City. From there you will need a short drive or walk to the entry gate to the Park.
Board excursion in Lake Victoria can be arranged on the request, Rock hiking, Picnic sites, Game viewing and Bird watching along the shores of Lake Victoria, Walking along the designated trials, Canoeing along the Lake with Local boats (dhows) can be arranged on request.
All year round, through June – August is the best time when it’s dry for picnic. Also September – December when short rains starts the vegetation acquire greenish color.
Mwanza City is full of Tourist hotels and many Guest houses, also in the Island there are Resting Huts where visitors can rest.