It’s not often that the raw African bush meets the idyllic Indian Ocean, but at Tanzania’s Saadani National Park it does so in fine style. A little-known park that is only now being opened up, it is the only wildlife sanctuary in East Africa boasting a beachfront, and is further unique in offering a most extraordinary sight: elephants cavorting on the beach.
The 1 000km2 mix of habitats at Saadani means that you’ll see a great range of animals: there are plenty of primates and antelope; large herds of giraffe and elephant; and the predators are represented by lion, spotted hyena and leopard.
In the south of this Tanzanian park the Wami River is full of hippo and crocodile, and it goes without saying that such a spread of habitats – mangrove swamp, riverine forest, marine, savannah and woodland – means excellent bird watching.
It’s also a park with a good range of activities: game drives can be augmented by guided walks and boating trips, and its location on the coast (it’s an easy day trip from Dar es Salaam) means it can be effortlessly combined with a Zanzibar beach holiday – which is just off Saadani’s coast – or Pemba Island.
Further afield, Saadani can be added to an exciting big game itinerary on a Tanzanian safari, with a trip to the wild Selous Game Reserve or the secret gems of south-west Tanzania: Ruaha National Park or Katavi National Park.
It’s a hot, tropical region: take anti-malaria precautions and avoid the heavy rains of April and May. Saadani is perhaps at its best in January/February, and again from June to August.