Expert Reviews – Saadani NP
Mary is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including South Africa, Tanzania, East Africa and Africa.
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Wonderful Beach & Some Wildlife, Too
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 is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
Saadani National Park: Bush and Beach in one
Katavi has often been called one of Africa’s best kept secrets. But like all secrets, they get out eventually. Quite a few new lodges have opened here over the years and although still very remote, you won’t have the place to yourself anymore as we did years ago. I still love this place. The big grassland plains are teeming with wildlife. Variety isn’t the strength here, but the numbers are impressive. A unique sight, never to forget, is the hippos tightly bunched up in the last remaining pockets of water in the diminishing rivers towards the end of the dry season. Bulls regularly get pushed out and big fights are common. Crocodiles have to share the space and can sometimes be found lying on top of the hippos. Equally impressive are the huge buffalo herds that roam the park. Some of them count thousands of heads. In terms of predators, lions are easily spotted, but other cats are rare. Getting to this place is expensive, but the reward is a very special experience.