The best place for short safari from Zanzibar – Saadani National Park
Saadani is one of the smallest and youngest national park in Tanzania. There are two reasons why it is worth to go there – it is not as populated as Serengeti or Mikumi parks and it`s the closest national park from Zanzibar, so you can go for a short safari in 2-3 days without spending most of time traveling. Within the park or in its immediate vicinity there are only 4 places where you can find accommodation. Kisampa Bush Retreat is one of them.
Kisampa Bush Retreat – our experience
The lodge is located on the border of the national park, on the top of a hill with an amazing view of the African savannah. It`s not usual luxury hotel, actually does not look like hotel at all. It is more cameral place, consisting 8 open, thatched huts (bandas) – kitchen, reception with dining area and 6 individual bandas for guests. Each of them are surrounded by bush and completely separated from the rest, so guests can have quiet and privacy. Lack of electricity, running water and walls give the opportunity to cut off from civilization and get closer to nature at the maximum level.
When we arrived it turned out that we are alone in the lodge. Alone means only us and six crew – chef, cooking dishes according to our tastes and arrangements, manager Bori, guide Umari, driver and waiters. All incredibly nice and helpful, filling the time showing us the area and at the same time giving us freedom and appearing only when they were needed. During these 2 full days we managed to do safari, canoeing on the river, bushwalk at sunset and trip to the nearby village.
The lodge is owned by an Australian doctor who has been very involved in the life of the surrounding community and a part of Kisampa`s income is devoted to support the people of nearby villages by building solar batteries and equipping schools.
How to get there? There is an airstrip in the national park, used by local carriers like Coastal Aviation (direct flights also from Zanzibar). You can order transfer from airstrip to Kisampa at an additional cost. Traveling by car from Dar Es Salaam is about 300 km (5.5 hours).
There is no WiFi in the lodge and electricity in bandas but you can charge your devices in the recreational area. If needed, the crew may also arrange laundry.
A morning warm bucket shower under the open sky, delicious breakfast overlooking the savanna or a night bonfire in the middle of the bush are just few moments that will surely remain in a memory for a long time. Although the park itself did not impress me, because it was not my first safari, Kisampa was very relaxing stay. The village Matipwilli, completely without tourists, stands out with its authenticity and extreme cordiality.