Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge stands directly on the beach overlooking the Indian Ocean. It is the only safari lodge within Tanzania’s Saadani National Park, and exceptional in combining the excitement of a fine safari with the pleasures of a beach holiday. Saadani’s recent refurbishments include an expansion to the coffee lounge and library, a brand new restaurant and kitchen, and two swimming pools, one a secluded rock pool and the other a 24-meter infinity pool on the beach.
Nine classic tented bandas, five Maridadi suites and the award-winning Siri suite, are dotted along the beach, tucked among the casarina trees. Solar power provides abundant hot water and round-the-clock electric light. Electrical items can be charged in the main lodge. Each classic banda is shaded by a cool grass roof, has a full-length verandah and an open view onto the ocean. Double rooms have king-size, carved Zanzibar-style beds and another bed on the verandah, so you can fall asleep to the sound of the ocean, under the African stars. The en suite bathrooms are fully netted and airy, and provided with biodegradable toiletries.
Maridadi means ‘elegant’ in Swahili and describes perfectly the five new suites that are raised on low stilts to capture the sea breeze. Teak decks overlook the ocean and the spacious interior features a double bed made from chunky dhow wood and comfortable armchairs, positioned by the extra-large windows. As well as en suite facilities, each has an outdoor shower, set in a private courtyard garden. Two of the Maridadi suites connect, via a shared lounge area, to create a generous family suite for four to five people, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Reached by a private walkway over a dry river, the Siri suite provides the luxuries of complete privacy; a private butler and chef to prepare meals according to your wishes; its own pool and sundeck, beach and access; a private bar and exclusive game and boat safaris. Set on a sand dune, the Siri suite provides both the spectacle of the sun rising over the Indian Ocean and the contemplative sight of sunset over the African bush in perfect solitude.
Meals are served in the spacious, airy dining area – or on the beach, surrounded by lanterns, or around the campfire. It’s a set menu and you will notice the freshness of the ingredients on your taste buds. With advance notice, the kitchen will, of course, cater for special requirements.
In the evening, people congregate in the Mikandi Bar or around the open fire on the beach for a drink before dinner and to exchange the day’s news. The elevated sitting room is a comfortable place to relax or have a nightcap – and wait till you see the library. With the bush behind and the sea in front, the fresh-water pool is a lovely place to cool off in the heat of the day, to savour an evening sundowner – or swim when the tide is out. A full bar service operates throughout the day. Saadani has a small boutique with a range of locally-made clothes and crafts.
A couple of minutes’ stroll from the lodge, there is a hide overlooking a waterhole where you can watch the animals come to drink while you enjoy afternoon tea or a sundowner. On the morning and late afternoon game drives, observe wildebeest, zebra and buffalo grazing on the savannah grasslands, giraffe nibbling, lion watching from the shade and, maybe, an elusive leopard slipping through the vegetation – it’s unusual to see another vehicle.
Get a close nature on a walking safari, tracking the wildlife through acacia woodland and dry river beds. Walking safaris are led by a guide and armed ranger and often end with a swim or a paddle from the beach. Visit a genuine Maasai village in the afternoon, when the cattle are brought in for the night. Take a boat safari on the Wami River and watch for crocs and hippos, Colobus monkeys, kingfishers, fish eagles and flamingos. Go out fishing, or choose a night’s luxurious fly-camping.
Take a boat trip and picnic lunch to the one of the off-shore sand islands, and spend the day snorkelling at the coral garden and, maybe, swimming with Green turtles and watching the dolphins. Walk along the unspoiled, white sand beach and watch the fishermen or, perhaps, some antelope or an elephant.
Location and habitat
A hundred kilometres north of Dar es Salaam, Saadani National Park is Tanzania’s newest park, a conservation area blessed with a diversity of wildlife and one of East Africa’s last protected coastal regions. Notable for the variety of its ecosystems, you can explore the lowland coastal forest, encounter lion, elephant and buffalo herds on the savannah , spot a wealth of resident and migratory birds, watch dolphins in the ocean and observe hippo pods, lazy crocs, pelicans and flamingos on the Wami River.
Saadani is a true escape from it all, great for families wishing to spend quality time together. The horse shoe bay protected by long stretches of sand banks and the gentle tides is the perfect environment for children to play in the surf surrounded by an abundance of bird and marine life. When out on safari the guides are keen to share their knowledge on drives and walks, even along the beach to spot tracks left by nocturnal animals. There is a inter-connecting family room and a lovely large central pool to wile away the days in.
Community & conservation
Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge purchases its supplies from the local village as far as possible. Over 40% of the staff comes from the village, and all but two are Tanzanian. The lodge also contributes to the local primary school and assists a number of pupils with secondary school fees each year. Saadani village now has a wind-powered water pump to supply fresh water. Saadani also supports the Tanzania Turtle & Dugong Conservation Programme. Toiletries are biodegradable. Electricity for lighting is provided by solar power, as is the energy for heating water. The lodge treats grey water with care and attention, to minimise waste and the possibility of pollution. The lodge seeks to avoid disposable packaging and transports recyclable waste and salvage for processing in Dar.