Saadani’s claim to fame is that it’s the only wildlife reserve in East Africa with a beachfront on the Indian Ocean. Saadani isn’t yet a great national park – it can’t compete with the wildlife found in the more famous Selous, Ruaha or northern parks, but it does make an interesting retreat for a few days – and a place where you can combine some gentle beach time with the odd game drive, guided walks, and perhaps a trips up the Wami River by boat.
Saadani’s coast is notable for its stands of mangroves, and inland the coast is fringed by palm-lined beaches. The natural vegetation of the interior of Saadani is mostly open grassland, dotted with acacia thickets, wit the occasional band of riparian forest lining the major watercourses.
There are small herds of elephant here, and also lion – although both can be skittish. Leopard, spotted hyena and black-backed jackal also occur. Hippo and crocodile are found in the river, and green turtles breed on the beaches.
Mkomazi National Park is a magnificent, 3,500 square kilometre national park in northern Tanzania. Remote and initially inaccessible, it was established in 1951.
The Mkomazi National Park is a spectacular wilderness. Within sight to the northwest is Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest summit. To the south, the Pare and Usambara Mountains form a dramatic backdrop and, to the north, Kenya’s vast Tsavo National Park shares a border with Mkomazi, making common ground for migratory herds of elephant, oryx and zebra during the wet season. Together with Tsavo, it forms one of the largest and most important protected ecosystems on earth.
Mkomazi is the southern tip of the Sahel zone. It is a classic dry-country reserve of grey-green nyika bush, ancient baobab trees and isolated rocky hills. Elsewhere, the seas of bush give way to open savannah woodlands of umbrella acacias and mbugas – shallow valleys of grassland.
The animals, too, are typical of the arid nyika. Giraffe, oryx, gerenuk, hartebeest, lesser kudu, eland, impala and Grant’s gazelle share the reserve with elephant, buffalo, and numerous predators, including lion, leopard and cheetah. In all, 78 species of mammals have been recorded.
The birds of Mkomazi are even more numerous, with over 400 recorded species. Doves, hornbills, weavers and guinea-fowl are all present in large numbers – as well as such striking species as the martial eagle and violet wood-hoopoe.