Once you’ve been on safari several times and you’ve seen the big and small mammals, chance is you start to get interested in birds. Surely you would have seen by now eagles and vultures on your trips, you might have spotted a Kori Bustard and a secretary bird as well. But don’t you wonder once in a while what all those small birds are – sitting on the giraffes, buffalos and hippos? Yes, those are oxpeckers. What are the birds that steam up from the grass? Oh, that could be many different ones. What is that bird that is so bright blue from underneath when you see it flying? It’s the lilac-breasted roller, whose voice just doesn’t fit to its splendid appearance. I guess once you start to get interested in birds, it’s more of a sport to catch them on camera and identify them (try to identify nightjars – haven’t managed that yet). It’s fun to sneak up on them and try really hard not to scare them away or to find the right spots where birds just like to spend some more time than just a few seconds without flying off. And then birding can actually be really rewarding, you’ll compete with yourself on the best picture you can get of a certain bird – try some sunbirds that are just tiny and just love to move around. But surely once you are into birding, your safaris will get another dimension to it and you’ll remember them because of that special bird that you’d never seen before. Here in Tembo Kijani we counted well more than 100 different bird species and the list keeps growing. So if you love birds and love “chasing” them, a vacation at Tembo Kijani might be just the right choice for you – we’re just as excited about it as you will be and will love to help you identifying them as well. So Karibu Tembo Kijani !
We’ve been to some of the national parks in the so-called northern circuit of Tanzania in the last month, and honestly? We prefer Saadani. We went to Ngorongoro crater with the expectation of hundreds of other cars, but it was quite empty, so this was not something that disturbed us. Still, it has the touch of a zoo with the crater walls as the fence. It felt as if the animals were presented on a silver platter to you, no searching for the wildlife in hide, and the animals were really too used to the cars driving around the roads; sometimes we’d even had to honk to get the zebras out of our way, they wouldn’t care to move until the car would be less than half a meter from their behind. The lions were just laying under a tree and wouldn’t even bother to look up to check who stopped. We found it a very unnatural behavior and just not really wild anymore.
With this said, I think that Saadani has really a lot to offer, especially for those who do not just want to make marks on their checklist of wildlife seen, but to really get an African experience. Let me give you some points – and I will not mention the typical slogan of “where bush meets beach”:
Saadani has a big variety of wildlife to offer: giraffes, elephants, lions, hippos, crocodiles, hartebeests, waterbucks, reedbucks, buffaloes, wildebeests, bushbucks, yellow baboons, vervet monkeys, black- and white colobus monkeys and other more difficult to spot species such as eland, zebras, leopards, hyenas, the rare Roosevelt’s sable antelope, porcupines and aardvarks.
Saadani is one of the few places in Tanzania where you can do a boating safari on a river to see hippos and crocodiles really next to you (and not standing next to a smelly pool).
With more than 300 bird species spotted and identified in the park, ranging from water birds to eagles and vultures to tiny sunbirds, Saadani makes a good spot for bird lovers as well.
The landscapes are stunning – Saadani has about everything from candelabra trees to thick forests, acacias and savannas to mangrove systems, Marula trees, open savannas, high grass, flat salt pans and then the view to the Indian ocean on some hills.
This park is not on the standard itinerary, so you’ll meet very few visitors during your game drives – if you love to watch the animals all by yourself, you’ll love it.
Because of its mostly thick vegetation, there are hardly any open savannas where you’d need binoculars to see whether you just spotted a buffalo or an elephant. The animals will be really close to you and they’ll always check if you are not a danger to them. You’ll see animals behaving naturally and right next to you.
If you like to be active on your safari as well, then this is the right place: it’s not only sitting around in the car, but it’s an adventure to find the animals – track their footprints and droppings, check in which waterholes is still some water left, listen to the noises and smell the scents – sometimes the herd of buffalos is just behind the next scrubs.
Saadani is definitely not a “zoo” experience, but rather a reminder of safari 50 years ago. If you love adventure, seclusion and totally wild nature, this place is for you.
Here is why what we loved especially about last year – Enjoy!
Although we do a lot of safaris in Saadani National Park (of course we would always love to do more – we are not getting tired of it), it seems that each time we go, we see something new. Yesterday we went only for a half-day game drive with our guests and saw the five zebras again – they are apparently still around since February, still only 5 of them, still together with giraffes and still extremely fat to be honest.
Around a month ago we just went for a few hours in the northern part of Saadani (Genda Genda), which is great for spotting Sable Antelopes, and just on our way out, three porcupines crossed the road and headed off into the thick grass – really funny the way they run with their short legs and their quills swaying from side to side.
But the most encouraging and surprising encounter we had on September 23 just when we were coming back from Dar es Salaam and only crossed through Saadani National Park to get back home. Shortly after the Wami Gate (in the south of the park, the closest entrance to Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam), we spotted around 15 elands, including at least one small one and one that looked pregnant. So not only that we finally saw them for the first time in Saadani, but also with encouraging news that there will be more in the future.
I am very much looking forward to our next safari – excited to see which other animal is hiding in Saadani and is only waiting to be discovered!
Now finally the rain season is almost over, only some showers here and there and mostly in the night. But the last two months were good for the land (and our wells) and hence really bad for the roads in Tanzania, especially the black cotton soil in Saadani. You might get in, but you’ll never get out!
So, the rain is the reason why we haven’t been in the park for quite some time now, and because we missed it so much, we watched the short clips that we have filmed during the last years. With some editing, lots of laughing and finding the right music, we finally managed to organize them and upload them to YouTube as short clips and to share them with you, our guests from the past and the future. But mostly we made them, I guess, for ourselves to watch during the rain season.
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This EcoBlog is intended for all our past and future guests. Here you can read about running an ecolodge in Tanzania, about safaris to Saadani, living on the Indian Ocean and surely a lot more about life in the African bush.
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