Ras Kutani – the perfect balance

The view over the lagoon and sea from your huge, super super king size bed!

I have been to many beach resorts, lay on many a sunbed and, in fairness, loved most of them. It wasn’t until I went to Ras Kutani that I realised the just what I had been missing.

Location: Southern Tanzania, Africa

Good for: Relaxation, wildlife and luxury waterside lodges, providing a stunning view over a freshwater lagoon and the crashing waves of a spectacular coast.

When to go: It’s cooler here May – through to August and then warms up as you progress into the rainy season.  
Ras Kutani is closed during April and May when the rains are heaviest. In September we experienced daytime temperatures of around 30º – 35º C.

Sykes monkeys wander freely around the camp

Cost: Roughly £1,000 – £1,500 for a 4 night stay depending on the season and the transportation chosen. If you are booking this camp as part of a pre-planned itinerary including other camps from the Selous Safari Company portfolio, you may find costs will be reduced. As a part of the Selous Safari Company group, the food is routinely exceptional in every way. I commend the chefs who seem to work tirelessly to create new things for you to try at every meal… While you are here, all  food is included, as is water, tea and coffee. There are plenty of other drinks/cocktails available but these are excluded and are payable. Also included is a full laundry service, which will get your clothes back to you the next day (weather permitting). Whilst staying here you have use of Kayaks, boogie boards (more about those later!) snorkelling equipment and so on, as well as rowboat trips out to explore the freshwater lagoon and it’s wildlife. There are trips available to see the local villages and experience their culture first hand as well and once you have done all that – you may want to take advantage of the spa treatments on offer (payable).

Flights and travel: A mere 10 minute flight from Dar es Salaam, by light aircraft to the Ras Kutani airstrip (5 mins by car). Or, as a slightly cheaper option, you may prefer to get a taxi which will take around 2 – 3 hours (traffic depending). I personally think that the 10 minute flight is a no brainer and is actually a great way to get an idea of the sheer scale of Dar.

Time difference: 2 hours ahead of the UK.

The glorious standard rooms, with plenty of relaxation space inside and out

Ras Kutani: Don’t be fooled by the fact that this place carries the label ‘camp’, there are no tents here. Each room (9 in total) is in fact a luxuriously furnished detached wood built cottage overlooking the lagoon and the sea beyond, built from sustainable materials (sourced locally). Both the room and balcony have a sand floor, covered with a locally made palm matting carpet – which is just glorious to walk on, and no sand comes through! The beds are super comfy and seriously large, my ‘guestimate’ is around 10ft wide! And if that’s not enough, each room comes with two hammocks on the balcony and heavily cushioned seating – I could so live in one of these rooms.

This place is all about the Al Fresco experience and it is reflected everywhere – nowhere is truly enclosed – it makes you feel as if you really are living in a Robinson Crusoe created paradise. Bare feet are the order of the day, wherever you are, which I always find strangely liberating – go figure.

Fabulous quirky handmade sun-loungers and tent-like shade

The really nice thing about the layout of the rooms and grounds is that you have areas to walk and explore, but nothing is too far away. A series of beautiful paths wind their way around the whole area, from the gorgeous pool and it’s adjacent lounge, to the restaurant, bar and rooms, all the way to the beach – giving you the chance to wander freely. If that’s not enough, there is also a self guided walk in the forest that borders the lagoon – full of birds, monkeys and reptiles to see.

Your hosts here are a lovely couple Leo and Frankie and their love for this beautiful country, its people and its delicate ecosystems is truly contagious. They are eager to chat and spend time with the guests, as are all of the team, the balance of social and private time here really is perfect. They have an amazing team who are keen to cater for your every need (they create the most sublime and refreshing lime juice!) and make every moment spent here feel like a special occasion.

Although you are situated only a short distance from Dar, you do feel like are away from it all here. It’s the only place I have found that seems to slow time down, giving you a relaxed feeling that I have honestly felt no-where else on earth. The pace is slow and relaxed – a great place to recharge.

beautiful Monitor lizard checking the pool temperature…

Wildlife: You won’t find any of the big five here, but there are plenty of things to see. The monkeys and monitor lizards wander into the camp freely and are no trouble – in fact they are a constant source of entertainment, Colobus monkeys are a little shy and stay in the forest but the Vervets and Sykes monkeys are constantly playing in the trees above your rooms and sometimes on your balcony. There are some snakes around, but they are also shy. You will see a lot of the very tiny Yellow headed dwarf gecko – who are very cute! Bush babies are around at night but you are more likely to hear them rather than see them. From your breakfast table you will see pied kingfishers hunting in the lagoon and we even saw a Giant kingfisher!

Adorable turtle hatching, making its way to the sea.

A massive plus here is that the camp helps support a charity called Sea Sense, who among other things, are committed to protecting the 5 species of turtle they are lucky enough to have here. They gather the eggs from the nests and re-locate them to a special netted are of the beach where predators can’t dig them up and then when they are due to hatch, they invite the guests from the camp to come, watch and help escort the hatchlings from the nest site to the see (no touching) but you can clear the path for them and your presence deters any predators. We were lucky enough to see three separate nests hatch while we were there. It is an experience not to be missed.

What to take:

• Insect repellent (Avon Skin So Soft is something I swear by). The lagoon means there are plenty of mossies around.
• Long trousers and tops for the evening (the sea breeze can be chilly early am and late pm).
• Binoculars to look for Whales on the horizon.
• Camera and plenty of memory cards!
• After bite cream (one with a numbing agent is quite good to stop any bites itching).
• Sun protection, There is a great breeze here but it means you can burn without realising it.
• At least one good book – there is a library here, but you will have to return or swap any books you borrow.
• A one piece swimsuit (women) or sports swim-shorts (Men) – if you plan to boogie board! See below notes)
• Dollars for tipping (only take dollars minted after 2006)

Yellow headed dwarf gecko found everywhere

What to expect: The sea here is strong and the waves can take you by surprise. I wore a bikini to boogie board and spent most of my time trying to keep it on! So if you are keen to partake of the boogie boards at the camp then it might be wise to take sports swimwear that is going to actually stay on you…

Expect to have your every need catered for, because it really is. You are even provided with broad rimmed hats for walking in the sun and umbrellas if its raining (His and hers) and if you fall in love with them you can buy your own to take home (all locally hand crafted). Don’t expect to wear a lot of shoes here, in fact one pair to arrive in and one pair to leave in should be fine.

There is wifi here for those tech-addicts among you – I personally avoided logging on so that I could truly forget about the outside world for a while.

This camp runs a communal tipping system, which enables you to tip everyone at the same time, even the people you won’t necessarily see. Your travel agent may offer you some guidance on this, but if not, the camp information in your room provides a rough rule of thumb.

Expect the ultimate relaxation, a very warm reception and the desire to stay here a little longer than you actually are – it is wonderful.

Any costs detailed here are based on information at the time of writing – and are purely for guidance.