​Expert Reviews – Saadani NP

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Mary Fitzpatrick   –  
United States US
Visited: Multiple times

Mary is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including South Africa, Tanzania, East Africa and Africa.

1 person found this review helpful.

Wonderful Beach & Some Wildlife, Too
Overall rating

Tiny Saadani's real highlight is not its wildlife, but the coastline - long, wide, driftwood-strewn in parts and mostly deserted. I don’t recommend the park as a destination in itself. Rather, plan a stop here if you're travelling by road between Dar es Salaam and the Pangani-area beaches. The beach lodges within and near park boundaries generally have a more secluded feel than the coastal resort areas closer to Pangani, and with luck, an elephant or two may even wander into your ocean vistas.

Wildlife sightings are notoriously erratic, and plenty of visitors manage to leave Saadani without seeing much more than the occasional antelope. However, most times I've visited, I've seen elephants (including several almost on the veranda of the park guesthouse where I was sleeping), plus hippos and giraffes. Saadani is also of interest as a cultural and bush tourism destination, with the upmarket Kisampa camp (just outside park boundaries to the south) an ideal base for this.

Ariadne van Zandbergen   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple times

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

1 person found this review helpful.

Bush & Beach
Overall rating

As the only park in Tanzania with a beachfront, Saadani National Park has a unique selling point. Don’t get your expectations up too high though. This isn’t the Serengeti. A good variety of wildlife is present, but densities are low and predators are not easy to spot. Elephant numbers have increased over the last few years and we were lucky to see a small herd on our game drive. Other wildlife commonly seen includes giraffe, warthog, waterbuck and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. Also look out for the red duiker – we saw several of these little antelope darting across the sandy tracks.

The highlight of our stay was a boat trip on the Wami River. You’ll see plenty of crocodiles and hippos, and you might be lucky to spot a troop of Angola colobus feeding in the riverine forest too. The birding didn’t disappoint, and we were able to tick off mangrove kingfisher, among some other specials. As we skipped the night drive, we were delighted to have bush babies and a genet visiting the lodge at dinnertime.

The beach side of things is very rustic and undeveloped. Don’t expect infinity pools and cocktail bars. Get up early and you might see the local fishers casting their nets at sunrise. If you’d like to spend a few days on the beach in a bush setting, Saadani might just fit the bill.

Average Expert Rating

  • 2.6/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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