THE WESTERN CIRCUIT SAFARI PARKS AND SITES
Rubondo Island National Park, located on Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest fresh water lake by surface area.
Rubondo Island National Park was gazetted officially as National Park in 1977. It is an important breeding ground for both migratory bird and fish species especially Tilapia and Nile perch as for a long time it stood to be the only area in the waters of Lake Victoria which was well protected and preserved.
About 80% of the park is covered by a dense forest thus providing a variety of habitats for indigenous wildlife such as Sitatunga, hippos, bush bucks, velvet monkeys, genet cats, crocodiles, bush pigs etc sharing the ecological niches with the introduced species such as chimpanzees, elephants, giraffes, black and white colubous monkeys, suni and African grey parrots.
The park is located on the southwestern corner of Lake Victoria in Geita region about 150 km (95 miles) west of Mwanza. The Lake Victoria is the second largest lake in the world. The park has 456.8 km2 of which 236.8 km2 is dry land and 220 km2 is water comprising of 11 small islets of varying sizes.
Rubondo Island National Park can be reached by Air Chatters and Public transport & then boats to the park.
(A)By Air: Rubondo Island can be reached both by charter/air. Visitors who prefer to travel by air should in advance check with the tour operators in Bukoba, Mwanza, Arusha and Dar es Salaam for flight schedules. Small Aircraft at Rubondo Airstrip- Kageye
(B) By public transport and Boat: By public transport leads you from Mwanza to Nkome via Geita town which is approximately 3-4 hours (164km) drive, 100km through a tarmac and 64 rough road. At Nkome Rangers post you can be picked by park boat and will take 1 hour to the park.
Another route is Mwanza to Mganza through Bukoba road (270km – 5hrs), Biharamulo to Mganza through Chato – Bukoba road and from Bukoba to Mganza through Bukoba – Chato road.
At Muganza you can take a taxi or motorcycle (5min) to Kasenda where Park boats are parking and there you will be picked-up by park boat and will take about 20-25 min to the park.
Boat trip from Kasenda to Mlaga entry and exit point
Note: Communication and transport arrangements should be done prior to park visit.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time is from June through September and wet season from November to March when wild flowers are flourishing and plentiful of butterflies.
For bird watchers is from December to February when most migratory birds are nesting.
Overview Of The Park
Katavi National Park, is found on the western part of Tanzania, it was formerly a game reserve; the park was established in 1974. It was originally 1,823km2 In 1997 it was extended to 4,471km2. The park is located 40km south of Mpanda town, being Tanzania’s third largest national park, after Ruaha and Serengeti.
How to Get There
By Air: Several companies like zantas air, Safari air link (SAL) arrange charter flight from Dar es Salam, Mwanza or Arusha cities to either Mpanda airport which is located in Mpanda town or to Sitalike and Ikuu airstrips inside the park. Usually every Monday and Thursday. Coastal Aviation Charted flight within the park Ikuu airstrips.
By Road: From either Dar es Salaam via Mbeya (1513Km), Dar es Salaam via Tabora (1392km), Arusha via Tabora (1015.7km) or Mwanza via Tabora-Inyonga (741 km).
By Rail: It is also possible to reach Mpanda by train from Dar es Salaam via Tabora then catch a public transport to Sitalike, where game drives can be arranged.
Best Time to Visit
Katavi National Park is accessible throughout the year, with 4X4 vehicles, from May to October and mid December, Any vehicle can be used.
Mahale Mountains National Park. The park like its northerly neighbor Gombe is home to some of the Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees, a population of roughly 900, they are habituated to human visitors by a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s.
Tracking the chimps of Mahale National Park is a magical experience.
Mahale National Park, is located in the Western Tanzania to the South of Kigoma town, it is bordering Lake Tanganyika-the World’s longest, second deepest and least polluted freshwater lake-harbouring an estimated 1000 fish species.
Best time to visit the park
The dry season (May -October) is the best period. During this period, chimpanzees are likely to be seen in big groups, the sunshine illuminates the fish in the Lake and the beach is an inviting place to relax. However, Mahale Mountains National Park is accessible all year round. A visit in the rainy season can also be a memorable experience, made remarkable by views of the neighbouring country DR Congo across the water and by incredible lightning storms that light up the lake at night.
– The Chimpanzees
– Chain of Mountains (Mahale range)
– Forest fauna and flora (Angola colobus, red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, forest birds, alpine bamboo, montane rain forest etc).
– Beach along Lake Tanganyika
– Local fishermen
– Sun set on the Lake horizon
What to do
– Chimp tracking (allow two days)
– Hiking to the Park’s highest point “Nkungwe” (8,069ft) held sacred by the local Tongwe people.
– Camping safaris
– Sports fishing and many more water sports activities
Mahale is accessible by air, road and boat. There are several flights, car and boat options to suit most travelers and chimps lovers:
Direct flights to Mahale
This is the easiest way to reach Mahale Natioanl Park. During the peak tourist season (June to October) the three tour operators with camps in Mahale National Park schedule regular flights between the park and Arusha town. Between October and March flights arrive and leave twice each week. Between March, April and the first half of May Camps close therefore there are no scheduled flights.
However it is also possible for visitors to arrange their own charter flights. Tanzania has a large number of charter flight companies such as Air Excel, Northern Air and Regional Air to mention a few. Private charters can be arranged from major cities of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Mwanza or Zanzibar.
The airstrip at Mahale National Park is suitable for light aircraft only with the capacity of up to 12 passengers.
There are truly wild places in Tanzania, Gombe National Park is one of
them. The nature value of Gombe was noticed in 1943 when it was designated as a game reserve. Gombe gained its popularity after the pioneering research activities of Dr Jane Goodall in 1960 which is believed to be the longest running study of primates in the world. Conservation status was upgraded to that of a National Park in 1968 and opened for tourism in 1978 after chimpanzee habituated to human visitor.
Gombe is the second smallest National Park located 16 km north of Kigoma town on the shores of the world’s second deepest Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania with an area of 56 square kilometers centered at 35M 0791840, 9486915. The arboreal slopes of the Great Rift Valley and the evergreen forests standing in the local valley bottoms support a wonderful diversity of wildlife and is a fragile habitat for chimpanzee.
TRANSPORT TO THE PARK
Drive, schedule or charter a flight from Dar Es Salaam, Mwanza or Arusha or take a slow or fast train from Dar Es Salaam or ferry along the shore of Lake Tanganyika from Burundi or Zambia to Kigoma. To reach Gombe you must travel by boat from Kigoma. Depending on your budget, there’s an option of speed boat, which takes much less time- or passenger’s boat, which takes longer about 4 hrs.Boat ride is an amazing trip.
Gombe wilderness worth a year round visit; enabling you to cruise along part of the historical inquisitiveness way back in the 19th century when Livingstone and Stanley searched the source of River Nile. Rainy season is the best chimpanzee sporting while the green vegetation blooms providing an astonishing scenic view and waterfalls are at the best( November to Mid- May) while dry season provides a chance for best photo taking , short and long hike(May to October).
Overview Of The Park
Saanane National Park, the rocky Island in Lake Victoria was named after its former owner, the late Mzee Saanane Chawandi, a farmer and fisherman. The Island was established as the first zoo in Tanzania in 1964, objectively to promote interest in wildlife conservation education and provide recreation to Mwanza people. Between 1964 and 1968, the Island was used as a holding ground of an array of wild animals, many of which were introduced into Rubondo Island National Park in Lake Victoria west of Mwanza rock city.
In 1994, the Government declared the Saanane Island as a Game Reserve to promote and strengthen conservation in higher status. It was fully fledged as the 16th National Park in July 2013, covering an area of 2.18 Km2 including an aquatic environment. The Saanane Island National Park (SINP) is made up of other two smaller islets; “Chankende Kubwa” and “Chankende Ndogo”, lying in the south. This is the smallest and first ever National Park located within a city: named Mwanza found in Tanzania – East Africa.
The National Park is located 2 kilometers South-west of the Mwanza Rock city centre, lying in the Gulf of Lake Victoria at Latitude 2.50 S and Longitude 32 E0. Saanane Island is the second National Park after Rubondo Island found in the Lake Victoria; the Africa’s largest fresh water body and the second in the World, after the ‘Superior’ Lake in the United States of America.
How To Get There
Stepping into the Mwanza rocky city is much easier by plane, road, railway and water transportation means. Once in the city, it is about 10 minute walk to the National Park office located at Capri-point peninsula near Tilapia hotel. Start your amazing boat rowing tour from the office taking you utmost five minutes to the Island.
Best time to visit the Island
All year round is possible: birdlife is most varied and scenery greenest over November-March. June-August is the dry season and great for picnics, game viewing and rock hiking.