In late November I escaped cold and dark of England and headed off for the sunny climes of Southern Tanzania to take a group of 6 agents on the ultimate safari and beach circuit. 9 days of blissful white sand beaches and remote bush in some of Tanzania's most beautiful spots was the perfect antidote to a miserable English winter.
My co-host for the trip was Emiel Mkwizu one of Selous Safari Company’s (SSC's) legends and one of the longest standing team members having been with the company for nearly 24 years. We were joined by 6 agents from; Yellow Zebra Safaris, Amelia Dalton Travel, Turquoise Holiday Group, Travel Counsellors, Kenor Safaris and Journey Beyond. We were going to experience the full SSC offering with two nights at each of the four properties; Ras Kutani, Siwandu, Jongomero and Fanjove Island.
There is nothing like a bumpy car transfer through the bustling streets of Dar to get to know your travel buddies for the next two weeks! We had congregated at Dar airport having flown in from 6 different countries and were heading down to the coast to Selous Safari Company's original beach retreat, Ras Kutani. The drive took about 90 minutes, with the city streets getting quieter albeit a little more bumpy! Gradually the shack-lined streets were replaced with huge palm trees and leafy green expanses surrounded us.
The arrival at Ras Kutani brought a sigh of relief from us all; after some long-haul flights we were more than ready for some R & R. We were shown to our rooms and the first comment from me (and I think everyone else) was “woah that is a huge bed”. With an ocean view right from my bed and a cosy looking hammock just waiting to be napped in, I knew two nights would be far too brief..
Ras Kutani is made up of 2 suites set into the hillside, with views over the coastal forest and out to sea, as well as 6 cottages each overlooking the fresh water lagoon or the ocean. The meeting of these two water sources creates a stunning view from the main area and the serene feeling that only being by water can bring.
A delicious lunch of Swahili style curry was devoured whilst the Managers told us that there is only one rule all guests must abide by at Ras Kutani... to relax. Feeling the effects of being trapped on a flight for 9 hours I decided to take a walk down the beach. Warm and breezy and with the Indian Ocean lapping at my feet… it was the perfect way to reset my frantic European mindset into the African pace.
After a very restful night’s sleep in our giant-sized beds, we walked down to the local village. The walk took about 1.5 hours and we were greeted like old friends by the locals, who offered us a drink as we took shelter from the sun. We headed to the local school built by Selous Safari Company in conjunction with the local community. We were not expecting any children as it was Saturday but we were pleasantly surprised to be welcomed warmly by a big group during their Maths class.
Ras Kutani is surrounded by a rare coastal forest, this type of forest used to cover huge tracts of the Swahili coast, however the area surrounding the lodge is now one of the last remaining vestiges. We headed out on a fascinating walk through the forest, spotting some of the many primates calling it home – curious Vervet monkeys peeked through trees but the beautiful black and white colobus monkey eluded us. The walk took us out onto the beach, where a drinks bar was set up and cocktails awaited us. Sat around the open beach fire sipping our delicious mojitos with the sea as our background music, I realised that Ras Kutani was really the perfect start to any Tanzania holiday... such easy access from Dar and yet in a different very, very chilled world.
"The perfect beach retreat"
"Wish I had more time"
"Everyone was so warm and welcoming"