Saadani, Tanzania – Where The Bush Meets The Beach

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When Di and Andrew heard that Sanctuary lodges had taken over the management of a game reserve on the coast of Tanzania, just north of Dar Es Salam, they immediately started to plan their second trip to Tanzania to incorporate Saadani and Zanzibar.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.42.30 If you are a wild life lover but also crave the sea this has to be one of the most unique national parks in the world, where else can you have an early morning game drive and then take a dip in the ocean to cool off?

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Saadani is just a 15-minute light aircraft flight from either Dar or Zanzibar.  Coastal Aviation provide a very efficient network around the country and our flight in a Cessna Caravan bought us into landing strip just a few minutes’ drive from Saadani Safari Lodge.  This is a lovely rustic property situated on a wonderful deserted sandy beach on the Indian Ocean.  With just 11 comfortable thatched cottages, some with outdoor showers and a honeymoon suite (complete with private pool) – this was our home for the next 4 nights of relaxed recuperation and game viewing.

483 (2)The lodge has two freshwater pools, one overlooking the ocean and one hidden among the shade of the palm trees.   The library area with oodles of seating areas also has a bar where you meet prior to planned excursions such as guided walks and game viewing:  it is also the wifi area!  A look out viewing platform over a seasonal water hole provides the perfect setting for a sundowner and the main bar and restaurant area ensure you have lots of space and privacy.

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The real surprise and the true attraction of this very unusual property is the short drive from the lodge into the Saadani National Park, 1000 square kilometres of diverse landscape encompassing the historic triangle of Bagamoyo, Pangani and Zanzibar; the history and culture of this Swahili coastline dates back over 2000 years to the days when Persian merchants controlled the gold trade. Historically this was an area rich with prawns and lobster, a doubtful involvement in the slave trade and ivory poaching and more recent dependence on salt mining

The National Park boasts herds of giraffe, elephants, buffalo, lion and leopard, bushbuck, wildebeest, baboons and monkeys, whilst the adjoining Wami River is home to increasing pods of hippopotomi and crocodiles, along with a quite astonishing variety of birdlife.

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Di and I stayed for 2 nights at the Saadani River Lodge, and this was a treat not to be missed. The Lodge has 12 stilted luxurious suites, all with outdoor showers, linked to all areas of the camp via a long wooden platform high above the ground to keep you safe from the hippos and crocs.  Rare Colobus monkeys and abundant birdlife can be seen from all areas of the cam.  This is a true bird watchers paradise, with a quite astonishing variety of  birds: kingfishers, bee-eaters, herons, lilac breasted rollers, cormorant, fish eagles, stork, ibis, egret, weaver birds, pelicans, african eagles, bateleur, sandpiper, plovers and curlew….our favourites were the bright yellow weaver birds popping out of their round nests all along the river, the beautiful mangrove and malachite kingfishers and the white fronted bee-eaters.

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In spite of many other previous African experiences, this was a truly wonderful experience and something really special – not least that your game viewing is unhindered by any other vehicle so unlike most other areas of Africa.  The variety of animals in the National Park and the bird life on the river, all enhanced by the spectacular light that shone over the plains and the water in the early morning and late afternoon sun, the delicious food and charming and knowledgeable staff, are all memories that will not fade away; we will return very soon.


To find out more about Tanzania, Zanzibar or Saadani please do visit the office or call us on 01428 648777

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