“Safari on the beach: suites perched on the golden fringes of the Indian Ocean, with game watching in bush, river and coastal settings”
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. There's a sociable atmosphere, especially at sunset when guests meet for cocktails and camp fires on the shore. 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 in splendid isolation with a dose of beach - and without the long drives or the dusty crowds of inland circuits.
- Right on a glorious 50km beach with few, if any, tourists
- Uniquely there are 3 different settings: river, bush and coast, which means plenty of a good variety of wildlife
- Spacious and comfy rooms in thatched suites which open directly onto the sandy beach
- Game drives, river safaris, walking safaris and the Saadani village tour are all included in the rates
- Social responsibility is high on the agenda, and Saadani helps fund many local projects (they will happily take you to visit them)
- Saadani Safari Lodge has undergone lots of changes since we last visited, so our review may not yet reflect the latest incarnation
- Saadani isn't perhaps in the top league of Tanzanian parks (although we still saw lions, hippos and kudu)
- In rainy periods, park roads can become muddy or impassable
- The sea is very shallow and you can't swim at all when the tide is out (but there is a lovely swimming pool)
- Flights from Dar or Zanzibar are pricey given the distance; but you could drive (about 3.5 hours)
Best time to go
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
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.”
- Safari Lodge
- All meals included
- All children aged 3+ welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Yoga deck
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, livened up by sand floors, shell mosaics and the odd fist of driftwood. You also have a full-length veranda, with unrestricted sea views. The Bandas have a daybed out here, which can be made up if you fancy sleeping alfresco under the star-splashed skies.
Five standalone Maridadi Suites (Swahili for elegant) are 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 4-poster double bed of chunky dhow wood; there's also a desk, a sitting area and an indoor shower bathroom 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.
- Coffee / tea making
- Mosquito net
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 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.
- All meals included
- Coffee / tea making
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- 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, flamingoes and pelicans
- Enjoy a boat trip to 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
- Swim in the Indian Ocean (or in the pool when the tide is out)
- Take a fascinating guided tour of Saadani village, which the hotel sponsors heavily (one of the highlights of our stay). There's a mosque, school, women's bio coop and a German cemetery
- Self-practice yoga or Pilates on the yoga deck
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Scuba diving
- Traditional cultures
Children are welcomed from 3 years old. Children aged 15 years and younger are required to share with their parents. Children between 5 and 11 may go on regular game drives, at the discretion of the Lodge Manager. Children under 5 years will not be permitted on game drives, for safety reasons, subject to the discretion of the lodge manager.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Larger families can stay in the Family Suite, which comprises two Maridadi Suites combined, to consist of two bedrooms and a living room. The Maridadi Suite sleeps up to 4 with the addition of 2 extra beds and the Banda Suite can sleep 3 with 1 extra bed
Kids Activities on site:
- Swimming pool
- Board games
Kids Activities nearby:
- Game drives (for those over 5 at the Lodge Manager's discretion)
- Boat trips
- Village tour
- Swimming and snorkelling
Families Should Know:
Rooms are close to the beach and children will need supervision at all times. Armed rangers are on patrol 24 hours a day so the lodge is very secure
- Airstrip: 5 minutes
- Hospital: 25 minutes
Saadani Safari Lodge is about 170km north of Dar es Salaam on the coast of East Africa in Tanzania. It has its own airstrip nearby.
International guests will most likely arrive via Dar es Salaam (170km) or Zanzibar. From here, the lodge can book scheduled flights for you, which fly to Sadaani's airstrip (1km) - enquire when booking. It's a 20-minute flight from Dar es Salaam and 15 mins from Zanzibar. You can also fly from Arusha.
From the Airport
A transfer from the airstrip (15 minutes from the lodge) is complimentary.
It is also possible to drive from Dar es Salaam to Saadani via Chalinze (about 3.5 hours, including some unsurfaced roads). Enquire when booking.
Alternatively you can drive from Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo (70km, 1 hr+, surfaced roads) and then take a speedboat to the lodge. The timing of this is dependant on the weather and the tide: duration is normally 1.5-2 hrs.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Tanzania and getting around
- Saadani airstrip 1.0 km
- Dar es Salaam 170.0 km DAR
- Beach 0.1 km
- Shops 1.0 km
- Restaurant 1.0 km