The small town of Mtwara is located on the coast of south-eastern Tanzania, along the rugged patch of coastline that leads to the country's border with Mozambique. Elevated slightly along the Makonde Plateau, the area is one of the more remote locations in Tanzania.
It is set on a peninsula surrounded by fresh water rivers and open lagoons feeding into the Indian Ocean. With its never ending stretches of white sandy beaches and excellent diving and snorkeling sites, it goes without saying that Mtwara is set to become more popular with local and international travellers.
Mtwara, one of Tanzania's larger towns is in the south eastern corner of the country, close to the Mozambique border. Mikandani, is a smaller town nearby, an area with vast empty beaches - ideal for a beach holiday without other tourists.
Mtwara was originally built by the British as a centre for a vast agriculture scheme that involved groundnut plantations along Tanzania's southern coast. The plantations eventually failed, but the town of Mtwara remains. The town has one site of particular interest, St. Paul's Church, which houses some remarkable murals of Biblical scenes painted by German priests. Also, in town, a visit to the old German boma and the slave market is an interesting day excursion from the coconut palm fringed beaches that stretch to the Mozambican border.
Mtwara's proximity to the Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park means that visitors can experience some of the most isolated dive sites on the coast. It makes an excellent supply stop for trips to the Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park and is a good base for exploring nearby Mikindani.
Along the southern coast of Tanzania, the old Swahili town of Mikindani and the surrounding beaches of the Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park make a tranquil and quiet alternative to larger beach destinations to the north. Travelling to Mikindani is an adventure in itself. With rugged road access and a small airstrip, the area is very much off the beaten path. But such secluded surroundings mean you’ll have the Indian Ocean Coast, and the Swahili ruins, all to yourself -- an unimaginable privilege that makes for an unforgettable experience. The beaches of southern Tanzania have much that is undiscovered, and offer the chance of adventure and the siren call of exploration to the willing visitor.
The new Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park was gazetted in 2000 having been identified as an area of high biodiversity value at both a national and international level. It has world class diving -possibly the best available in Tanzania. The nearby plateaux of Mkonde and Rondo have excellent walking and panoramic views, and due to their altitude (900m) a pleasant climate. There are several rare species of birds in the forest reserve.
Some of the best diving in Tanzania is found within the marine park and includes spectacular outer reef drop offs, extensive spur and groove formations, channel and patch reefs. Over 400 species of fish have so far been identified and more species of coral (more than 258) than anywhere else on the East African Coast. Intertidal reef flats teaming with life and the pristine white sands of Ruvula beach complete this tropical paradise.