- Our choice fell on Saadani National Park, as it was highly recommended though a long drive from Arusha, in the north of Tanzania.
It was a weekend my companion and I needed a beach and bush destination getaway. Two others were willing to join us. So with four people, we had a perfect sized group.
Our choice fell on Saadani National Park, as it was highly recommended though a long drive from Arusha, in the north of Tanzania.
Saadani is located in the center of the historic triangle of Bagamoyo, Pangani, and Zanzibar.
Saadani National Park is the only wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania and the East African region that borders the sea (the Indian Ocean) so it offers a different safari experience.
The climate is coastal, hot and humid. It offers a unique combination of both marine and mainland flora and fauna in a culturally fascinating setting.
And it has about 30 species of larger mammals as well as numerous reptiles and birds. Besides, many species of fish (over 40), green turtles, humpback whales and dolphins patronize the Indian Ocean in the peripherals.
Saadani village once was an important harbor-town and slave trading center in East Africa. Now it has become a popular fishing village with locals whose livelihood depends on fishing.
The humid savannah of Saadani National Park can be divided into three easily distinguishable types: tall grass savanna with herbaceous cover growing up to 2m and scattered palms, short grass grazing land (mostly situated on former sisal plantations and black cotton plains where the clay soil creates particularly harsh conditions.
Tree cover is typically Acacia, which covers a large part of the park. In the tall grass, savannahs are buffalo and herds of hartebeests grazing in the park.
Common water-buck occur all over the park and can be easily recognized by the white ring around their rump. The density of reedbucks is especially high in Saadani National Park, although this medium-sized antelope might be difficult to spot in tall grasses where they tend to lie down for shelter.
Warthogs are omnipresent and even come into Saadani village as most of the villagers are Muslims; hence the warthogs have come to learn that they will not be harmed.
The tallest animal in the world and the national symbol of Tanzania is the giraffe, which are also numerous in Saadani. Their tongues have special callus plates which make them particularly well adapted to browse off spiny acacia trees.
Large herds of white-bearded wildebeest graze in the short grass savannahs.
Lion, the largest of the African carnivores, is also found in Saadani although it is rarely seen. At night you may hear the hyenas and lion call or encounter genet cats, porcupines and civet cats.
Other species which can be sighted within the perimeter of the park are bushbucks, yellow baboons, and vervet monkeys.
From East to West, the open ocean with coral reefs changes to brackish water ecosystem characterized by mangrove forest, salt-pans and bare saline areas.
Further inland, the Wami River is the most important freshwater source beside numerous temporary rivers and dams.
At low tide, the sea retreats up to 100 meters to form a convenient passage for local people and wild animals. These beaches are the only place north of Dar-es-salaam where sea turtles still come to lay their eggs.
The less known coastal forest is characterized by a high biodiversity with many plants occurring only in this area (endemics).
In the evening of our last night we had an extraordinary treat from our lodge: Dinner was set at the nearby beachfront!
The dinner was for all guests stayinf at the lodge which included a family of three and a honeymooning couple from South Africa, a couple from Greece and an ex-pat Canadian couple.
We dined on a wonderful dinner, devoured our desserts and debated the true location of the Saadani in the night sky.