Saadani Safari Lodge

Saadani N.P., East Coast & Dar, Tanzania Book from

Safari on the beach: tented cabins perched on the golden fringes of the Indian Ocean, with game watching in bush, river and coastal settings
Saadani is East Africa's only park with sea frontage, so it's a unique opportunity to go game-watching and swimming the same day. And this lodge provides plenty of style in which to do it. Its 15 tented cottages are hidden amongst the screw palms on a tranquil beach overlooking the Indian Ocean. The main building, grass-roofed and perched on stilts, houses a bar and restaurant with gorgeous views of the golden sands. Nearby, there’s a quirky ‘boat bar’ where we happily whiled away an afternoon, plus 2 decked swimming pools and a hidden treehouse overlooking a waterhole - great for spotting reedbuck, baboon, giraffe, lion and buffalo.

Aside from safari drives, you can swim to one of the off-shore sand islands, take a walking tour to the local village with a knowledgeable guide or enjoy a boat trip along the sinuous Wami river to watch pods of hippo and basking crocodiles. Hop on a plane and in 20 minutes you can be in Zanzibar or Dar. It's an easy add-on, perfect for gentle game viewing with a dose of beach - and without the long drives or the dusty crowds of inland circuits.

Highs

  • Right on a glorious beach with few, if any, tourists
  • Plenty of wildlife in 3 different settings: river, bush and coast
  • Spacious and comfy tent-roofed rooms, plus a fab Siri Suite (for honeymooners) at the end of a walkway into the bush
  • Sociable atmosphere, especially at sunset when guests meet for cocktails and camp fires on the beach
  • Social responsibility is high on the agenda, and Saadani helps fund many local projects (they will happily take you to visit them)

Lows

  • Game is less plentiful or varied than in other Tanzanian parks (although we still saw lions, hippos and kudu)
  • You can't swim in the sea when the tide is out (but there are a couple of lovely swimming pools)
  • Flights from Dar or Zanzibar are pricey given the distance; but you could drive from Dar to Bagamoyo and then transfer to Saadani by speedboat (1.5 hours)
  • The lodge is not suitable for children under 12

Best time to go

June-Sept: the coolest time of the year and best for hippo and crocodile in the Wami river. Landscapes are green after the rains start to dry, opening up the grasslands for good game viewing. This is an ideal time for game driving and forest walks, and also for snorkelling as the sea is at its calmest.

Oct-Nov: Warmer temperatures and the end of the dry season mean that animals are increasingly attracted towards the lodge's waterhole. Buffalo are particularly visible at this time. Migratory birds start to arrive from the north and are at their most active. There are usually some light rains from late October - November, which bring flowers and a green hue to the parched landscape. But the sea can be choppy - not ideal for swimming.

Dec-March: The warmest time of year, when guests are invited to sleep under the stars in the cooling sea breeze. Swimming is at its best, and after short rains there is increasing activity around the waterholes. All the trees are in leaf and the environment is fertile.

April-May: April and May are monsoon season. Consequently, the lodge is closed and many tracks and roads become impassable.

Our top tips

Saadani National Park has over 1000 sq.km. of mixed terrain - coastal pine woods, mangrove swamps, open grasslands, riverine forests, saline flats and classic acacia-dominated savannah. It has very few visitors; most come on day trips out of Bagamoyo, and Saadani Safari Lodge is the only lodge within the park borders.

Wildlife includes large numbers of hippo, crocodile, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, zebra, gazelle, waterbuck, reedbuck, hartebeest, wildebeest, yellow baboons and vervet monkeys - at all times of year. Lions are making a comeback, with perhaps half a dozen prides around the lodge area; and leopard, spotted hyena and black-backed jackal are also seen. Less common species include greater kudu, eland, colobus monkey and the endangered Roosevelt's sable.

Birdlife includes lilac-breasted roller, weaver, grey hornbill, fork-tailed drongo, greenbul, sunbirds and various vultures and eagles; near the water you'll see yellow-billed stork, grey heron, little egret, sandpiper, flamingoes and kingfishers.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Lodge
  • 15
  • All meals included
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 1 Apr 2017 - 31 May 2017
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

Sitting on the beach under the fringes of the casuarina trees are the 9 original Classic Bandas, which are simple but elegant, with wooden frames supporting grass roofs. Polished wooden floors and swathes of white cloth create a bright and airy feel, with large Zanzibar-style carved beds (double or twin) surrounded with romantic nets, and chunky, sun-bleached wooden furniture.

Each banda has an ensuite bathroom with solar-heated shower and flush lavatory, livened up by sand floors, shell mosaics and the odd fist of driftwood. You also have a full-length veranda, with unrestricted sea views. Double Bandas have a daybed out here, which can be made up if you fancy sleeping alfresco under the star-splashed skies; Twin Bandas have a couch.

The newer Siri Suite (meaning 'secret' in Swahili) was built especially for honeymooners and romantics. Set apart from the other cottages on top of a sand dune, it offers ultimate privacy, awesome views of the Indian Ocean and National Park - plus one of the largest beds we have ever set eyes upon! It comes with its own plunge pool, an outdoor kitchen area with chef, a bar and a personal butler. When it comes to safaris, a boat will collect you from your private beach to take you to the Wami river and the small coral garden at the end of the sand bank; or a vehicle will wait for you at the end of the pier to take you on a private safari.

Newest of all are 5 standalone Maridadi Suites, perched on short stilts directly on the beach and close to the newest-built pool and restaurant. A teak-wood balcony runs around the outside of each, with a couple of cushioned steamer chairs. Inside, under a thick thatch roof, is a stylish double bed of chunky dhow wood, with nets and vibrant red cushions / runner; there's also a desk, a sitting area and an indoor shower with solar hot water as well as an outdoor courtyard shower room.

Two of these connect, via a shared lounge area, to create a generous family suite for 4-5, with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net
  • WiFi

Eating

Meals are served in the spacious restaurant, set on stilts above the beach with amazing views of the Indian Ocean and a deliciously cooling breeze. Menus are fixed (and all included in your tariff) but can take account of your dietary preferences so long as you tell the lodge managers, Graeme and Candy , in advance.

Unsurprisingly the focus is on fresh seafood, including feasts of prawns which are netted every day; these, served with a juicy tomato and avocado salad, could do me for weeks! But there's also a strong Indian influence - think chicken coconut curries, crunchy vegetable samosas - and some European standards like succulent beef with potatoes, along with my favourite: spiced banana cake for dessert.

Whatever your daily programme, you're well looked after with picnic lunches, afternoon tea and coffee at the treehouse and, at sunset, passion fruit cocktails around the beach bonfire. In the morning, tea, coffee and fresh juice are brought to your veranda at dawn so you can come to gently before setting off on a game drive - or tucking into a full breakfast.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Step barefoot off your veranda and along the beach to watch fishermen bringing in their prawn nets
  • Go on a game drive in the bush - wildlife is plentiful at all times of year, though August-November is considered best
  • Paddle up the Wami river with your guide to see hippos, crocodiles and the diverse birdlife
  • Boat trips are offered along the winding green banks of the Wami river, on the lookout for hippos, crocs, flamingoes and pelicans; or on the high sea as far as a sandbank islet where you can have a picnic under a palm tree and look out for dolphins and turtles as you swim (best from June-September)
  • Sip evening drinks around the fire before dinner, and swap wildlife-spotting stories with your fellow guests
  • Sunbathe on the beach, or swim in the Indian Ocean (or in the pools when the tide is out)
  • Take a fascinating guided tour of Saadani village, which the hotel sponsors heavily (this was one of the highlights of our stay). There's a mosque, school, women's bio coop and a German cemetery
  • Or meet Mzee Nsoro, the traditional healer with powers over deadly serpents

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Safaris
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wildlife

Kids

All ages are welcome here but note that the Lodge does not offer amenities for families and is not a family oriented lodge; the majority of guests are here for tranquillity and to get close to nature. There are no extra beds.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

No rooms can take an additional bed. Families either stay in the Family Suite, which comprises two Maridadi Suites combined, to consist of two bedrooms and a living room, or they can book two rooms.

Babysitting:

Babysitting can be arranged with advance notice

Children's meals:

Special requests can be accommodated and smaller portions can be created

Families Should Know:

Rooms are close to the beach and children will need supervision at all times

Kid Friendly:

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