Lion encounter

During today's boat safari we encountered a lion right next to the Wami river shore, about 300 mts. downstream from Wami Suite. We had two boats in the river with one coming from Saadani Safari Lodge, to support the incentive for a group of top managers from an international tobacco company.

It was the first time we have ever encountered a lion on Wami river since 2001 when we first organized boat safaris on the river! The lion went into a shady mangrove area, around 300 mts downstream from the presidential Wami Suite. It was a male, teenager lion that was alone at the moment, probably looking for prey next to the river. It stared at us for 2-3 minutes and then went to hide in the jungle.

Our guests were delighted! Us as well, because so far we had seen lion footprints around the lodge but only one night, our Maasai guards met a couple of lions in the evening, right on the lodge gate. We would like to thank our guest Mr. Bothma for the unique image he offered to the lodge..

Welcome to our first guests!

Our first guests arrived today to the lodge, coming by boat from Saadani Safari Lodge, which is right on the Swahili coast, into the national park. Among our guests, there was Gary, a British photographer with his wife who came here to prepare an extended article on Saadani National Park.

During their stay, we had our first walking safari on the nearby savannah, which proved to be more interesting than we all expected. The veryfirst guests in the history of the lodge, though, were a nice couple from Belgium, Gillan and Nanda De Graeve. We will never forget this day.

Saadani River Lodge at KaribuFair

Saadani River Lodge together with Saadani Safari lodge participated at the popular KaribuFair held in Arusha from 3-6 June. The two Saadani Lodges shared the same tent with the famous Singita lodges and Fundu Lagoon of Pemba. During the three days Fair there was a lot of interest for coastal Saadani from tour operators in Arusha, who are constantly in search of alternative to the northern circuit destinations, as well as from Kenyan and Ugandan tour operators.

Saadani seems to also become a hit for Zanzibari tour operators who need to offer a short but authentic safari experience to the island’s vacationers from Europe. Saadani is the only park where you can see the big four (all except rhinos) in a 15 minutes flight from Zanzibar island.

Maasai chef from Arusha joined our team

Ananias Mesuli, an experienced Maasai chef from Arusha, will be the F&B leader at Saadani River Lodge. Mesuli has worked for years at different luxury lodges belonging at Abercrombie & Kent group and he has a great experience at safari camps as well. He is an authentic bush chef who can prepare five star meals from a simple stove in the middle of nowhere.

Mesuli is a very enthusiastic and talented guy, who has cooked for people like Bill Clinton and Bill Gates. He was delighted with the super equipped show kitchen at Saadani River Lodge, where he will cook in front of the guests interacting with them on a daily basis. The chef will lead a team of five cooks who will be preparing three course lunches and four course dinners, plus an array of a la carte dishes.On a daily basis, the guest can have a choice of two distinct menus, plus one vegetarian option. Currently Mesuli is preparing the menus and getting acclimatized to the humid environment of coastal Tanzania.

Saadani River Lodge is like an island…

Yesterday we were waiting for our pickup from Dar with the monthly food supplies and seven people on board, with our human resources manager among them. At 2pm they departed from town. At 5pm they were 10 km from the lodge at Gama village but with one flat tyre and unable to go on as the road was completely flooded by Wami river. We lost them for three hours until eventually and only after 9pm, we were able to reach them on their cell phones! They were still at Gama, stuck with three flat tyres into the bush with no hope to arrive to the lodge. The younger men offered to walk 10km into the dark African night carrying products like row meat and chicken so it would not rot. Incredible Africans!

We told them that it will be best for them to stay all together, get some food and spend the night there and this morning we would pick them up with our safari boat. This is what we did. We travelled 15 km upstream the twisting river and found everybody tired next to a hut. The road was like a river.

After three hours, the guys carried all the stuff into the boat, left a local guy at the car to watch it and we got back to the lodge safe and sound after six hours! Now the situation is still tricky as we can't get supplied by car from Dar. We already ran out of petrol and during the week we will run out of diesel as well. No diesel means no electricity. Plus, we are running out of bottled water and river water (for washing) as we can't run the water, petrol pump.

But we are in Africa. We will find a way to survive. There is always a way, even if a funny one, to survive in this country...

Close encounter with our hippo

We are used to meet Babis – this is how we call the hippo – early in the morning or just after sunset, grazing around the staff village. He is a popular figure for the staff as he is coming closer than ever to the canteen or to the staff quarters. Our Maasai know him well and sometimes follow him in close distance but he never attacks or gets upset. This is a 100% wild animal which gets domesticated every day. We call him the “boss” because when he appears, everybody stops working, managers included.

Today, our manager had a close encounter with him at the boat jetty. Babis climbed on the right side of the jetty, from where there is no exit to the lodge. He saw the human figure but remained calm. One moment he approached the jetty as if he wanted to climb it. This is something we had never seen before. The manager had a heart beat moment – as he says – and moved 10 meters away. Then, Babis, climbed on the wooden jetty with great ease and got to the other side, were the bush was thicker. The managers and the boat driver couldn’t believe their eyes. From today we all believe that one day this hippo will walk to the restaurant for a proper five star dinner…

Greek overlanders for lodge managers

Akis Temperidis and Vula Netu have started their duties as the managers of the Saadani River Lodge today! The couple from Greece has been travelling for 1177 days around the world in a Land Rover Discovery 3 and they are both pretty popular figures in their country as their expedition was covered extensively by Greek media.

After Akis and Vula got back home, they realized that could not live a city life any more, so, after short negotiations with Costas Coucoulis, the Managing Director of Exceptional Lodges Ltd., they decided to come and live in Africa.

“This was an old dream for us”, Akis says. Akis is a travel & car journalist and Vula is a dancer and dance professor. After travelling so long around the world they know what real hospitality is and what safari experience means. For sure Saadani River Lodge will have loads of travel stories to be shared by our future managers. Karibusana guys!