Ras Kutani: Our full report
**As of June 2020 Ras Kutani has sadly closed.At this time there are no plans for the lodge to re-open in its current form, but please do contact us for the latest information.**
Ras Kutani is situated on a quiet stretch of white beach south of Dar es Salaam, tucked in amongst lush tropical vegetation on a wild stretch of coastline. To get there you'll be rowed across the calm waters of a lagoon. Rustic yet stylish, it aims to have the feel of a safari lodge on the beach, rather than a resort. In this sense, it is very much in keeping with Ras Kutani's sister camps, Siwandu in the Selous Game Reserve and Jongomero in Ruaha National Park.
Ras Kutani has nine spacious, reed-and-thatch cottages, four new, larger suites and a family house. The cottages sit along the lagoon, or face out to sea. Paths of deep, soft, white sand link the various areas of the lodge to the rooms - a pleasure to walk through in bare feet, but admittedly a little tiring to reach the more distant cottages.
The restaurant, lounge and well-stocked bar at Ras Kutani share a large open-sided thatch structure, with makuti mats on the floor. The adjacent bar and lounge have plenty of low sofas, with an abundance of cushions, set around a solid coffee table made from reclaimed dhow wood. Here you can find a selection of games including the traditional Tanzanian bao. Ask the staff and they will happily show you how to play. The dining area extends onto a patio with umbrella-shaded tables overlooking the sea: a lovely spot for a cool drink.
Ras Kutani has a pretty swimming pool surrounded by shaded sun loungers and a great spot to come and relax with a good book. Next to the pool you can find a second lounge area with further soft seating and this is the lodge's main Wifi spot.
Nothing here is over-the-top, yet – with open sides around the main areas, polished stone floors, makuti thatch roofs and sandy paths – Ras Kutani is clearly a high-quality lodge. We were particularly impressed on our latest visit to Ras Kutani in 2016 when we met a professional sommelier who was training the bar staff. They were being educated on the correct way to serve wine, as well as getting in-depth knowledge about the wine on the menu. It's this attention to detail and constant effort to improve standards that make Ras Kutani such a high-quality beach lodge.
Ras Kutani has a shop with a small range of curios and some toiletries for sale, and a handy book exchange. There is also a massage room (open 10am to 4pm) where, when we visited in September 2016, an hour's soothing massage cost US$45.
Most guests spend their days at Ras Kutani relaxing on the beach, where someone will set up some shade for you. You can borrow kayaking and snorkelling gear to explore an 80-year-old shipwreck off the beach. Snorkellers should note that otherwise it's mostly sand, with very little in the way of coral. Other activities include gentle canoeing in the lagoon, and exploring the forest where you have the chance of seeing black and white colobus monkeys. You can also arrange a guided walk through the local village.
It's rare that a beach lodge such as Ras Kutani (rustic, lots of wood) is so smart and well tended. This is a beautiful lodge that obviously gets plenty of visitors, and it's an ideal place for pure rest and relaxation at the start or end of your trip. Not only is it a stylish place to stay, and we love the suites in particular, but what struck us most when we stayed was the staff. One of the most attentive teams that we have come across in Tanzania, they were not only polite and friendly, but also very observant – the moment you finished a glass of water they were there to refill it. However, they never felt intrusive – it was the perfect balance.
- Tanzania Coast, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- 3–4 nights is probably long enough to spend at Ras Kutani as activities are limited; we suggest it for a few days of relaxation before or after a safari.
- Ras Kutani is a 15-minute flight from Dar es Salaam, or a 1-2-hour drive depending on where you start. If you come by air, you'll land on north side of the river and then take a small boat across the creek to the lodge.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- When we visited Ras Kutani in September 2016 the food was excellent: fresh, tasty and imaginative. Plenty of seafood is incorporated into the menus, but there are always tasty alternatives.
For breakfast you could choose from fresh fruit, cereals and bread, or indulge in a full cooked breakfast. If you have to leave very early to fly on to your next destination, tea, coffee and biscuits will be brought to your room on request.
Lunch is a light, two-course affair. A buffet-style main course, including an excellent mix of salads, pastas and cold meats. When we last visited we enjoyed roast aubergine in a rich tomato sauce with a selection of fresh salads and on another lunch we had little fish cakes, roast potatoes, green beans and olives, and a tomato and avocado salad. There was lemon meringue hot from the oven for those with room left.
In the evening you will gather around the bar for pre-dinner drinks before being taken to individual tables for dinner. Several nights of the week they have themed barbecues. We were served tempura vegetables with a sweet chilli sauce, followed by a seafood platter served with fresh vegetables and followed up by a passion fruit cheese cake.
- The team at Ras Kutani are amongst the most attentive that we have come across, led by incredibly thoughtful management. We are sure that any couple on honeymoon to Tanzania would be made to feel extra special and treated very well at this romantic and luxurious beach retreat.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- Beach holidays
- Ras Kutani is a beautiful white beach only a few hours south of Dar es Salaam - making it ideally located for a few days of relaxing at the beginning or end of your holiday, no matter if you are going to do some game viewing or experience some more of Tanzania’s best beaches.
- See ideas for Beach holidays
- Attitude towards children
- Children over the age of 6 years are welcome at Ras Kutani.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No children under the age of 6 years.
- Special activities & services
- There is no special services for children.
- Ras Kutani have no special equipment
- Generally recommended for children
- Ras Kutani is very quiet and popular with honeymooners, so is not suitable for very young children. It is possible that children will get bored, and that parents might feel uncomfortable having children there.
- Power supply notes
- There is 24 hour electricity in all the rooms sourced by solar panels and generator, and the usual, UK-style 3-pin sockets. Guests can only use hairdryers when the generator is on.
- There is cellphone reception at Ras Kutani, and there is also free Wifi in the pool area.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Although the tap water is clean, and it's fresh water and not briny, we recommend only drinking the bottled water provided.
The Responsible Tourism Tanzania certified resort Ras Kutani lies nestled between the blue waters of the Indian Ocean and the tropical green coastal forests of the Swahili Coast. The resort was built using natural materials to ensure the design blended into the native oasis. Traditional Tanzanian cuisine inspired by the bounty of seas is prepared with fresh locally-sourced ingredients and is cooked using recycled charcoal from a local company. From the roof to the ecological bamboo drinking straws, effort has been made to conserve the fragile ecosystem.
The resort also prides itself in using as many alternatives to plastic as possible, such as stainless steel bottles and paper bags. Furthermore, Ras Kutani is a pioneer who supported the development of Tanzania’s first recycling facility. All clean boxes, trays or cartons used for deliveries are returned to suppliers for re-use, and any remaining plastic containers are reused on-site.
The camp is also involved in conservation initiatives and with the help of Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group, has implemented a project to introduce tree husbandry to the local community. Locals are taught how to plant and grow different trees, including hard wood trees and cash crop trees, which are used for building and charcoal production. The team at Ras Kutani is committed to protected nearby turtle nests, but they welcome guests to visit the site and learn more about the local wildlife.
See more great sustainability projects in Tanzania
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- All the staff at Ras Kutani are first aid trained and there is a safety watchman on the beach for water activities. For serious medical cases, guests would need to transfer to Dar es Salaam: a 15-minute flight or two-hour drive.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- Ras Kutani is fenced on the landward side and there are guards on the beach in the evenings. There is a safe in each room for valuables – though theft is rarely a problem here.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included but for cultural reasons ladies' underwear cannot be accepted.
- There is no currency exchange available at Ras Kutani.
- Accepted payment on location
- Ras Kutani accepts cash in the form of US dollars, Tanzanian shillings, GB pounds and euros. They also accept credit cards – please note that there is a 5% surcharge for this.
Room types at Ras Kutani
The cottages at Ras Kutani are identical in terms of build and style and vary only in location.
The beach cottages are situated to one side of Ras Kutani's main lounge and dining room area, and are set in open manicured gardens with views out to sea.
The lagoon cottages, on the other side of the lodge, are in slightly more tropical gardens around the creek, so don't offer quite the same clear sea views. However the lush plants offer delightfully cool shade.
Each cottage is light and airy, with a large veranda that is open to the breeze on all sides, the perfect place for lounging on the cushioned sofas or in generously cushioned hammocks.
Set back from the veranda through wide French doors is a double bedroom, furnished in a simple, traditional style, with makuti mats on the floor and walls of solid bamboo edged by coir rope. The bed frame is made from white-washed polished stone and is colourfully decorated with kikoi material (traditionally worn by Swahili men – though today's modern take has made them rather more colourful and beachworthy!). Mosquito netting hangs from the frame above and is tucked around your bed, before you return from dinner. The use of natural materials helps the room to stay cool throughout the day – without the need for air conditioning or a fan.
The family cottage, or Hill House as it is also known, comprises two en-suite bedrooms linked by a central lounge area. Like the suites, the family cottage is also situated above the main camp and gives beautiful views over the Indian Ocean. It's quite a hike up to this cottage, especially in the heat of the day through the soft sand on the paths.
Each of the two bedrooms is similar in style to the cottages. They are constructed from natural materials and the wide doors open at the front giving the rooms a light and airy feel. Outside you'll find a veranda with a hammock.
The spacious central lounge area has a high makuti thatch roof, open-sided to take in the views. Here you'll find several low sofas scattered with cushions where you can relax and enjoy the gentle sea breeze.
The four suites at Ras Kutani are very luxurious yet stylishly minimal, making them light and airy, and lovely to be in. Raised high up on a hill behind the Lagoon and Beach cottages, they also command spectacular views of the sea.
Each suite is a very large white-washed cottage with a thatched roof and large mosquito-screen windows. In the middle of the main bedroom (approximately 7 metres x 6 metres, around 450 sq ft) sits an enormous bed draped in very effective mosquito netting, with crisp white bed sheets teamed with a colourful throw. Though the cottages don’t have air conditioning or a fan, their openness allows the breeze to pass through so that they stay delightfully cool. Each cottage has a mini bar fridge. They also each have also a private plunge pool on the veranda.
The en-suite bathrooms (approximately 3 metres x 3 metres or 100 sq ft) are set through a door to one side. These, too, are spacious, and include double wash basins, a flush toilet and a good shower. Whitewashed walls, cream tiled floors and billowing white curtains give the bathrooms the same crisp minimalist feel as the rooms.
Other lodges in Tanzania Coast
Alternative places to stay in this same area.