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 most remote locations in Tanzania. The town has one site of particular interest, St. Paul’s Church, which houses some remarkable murals of Biblical scenes painted by German priests.
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. 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 scheme was implemented after the Second World War, when the British had taken control of what was then Tanganyika from the Germans, and the groundnuts were expected to make up for post-war food shortages in the United Kingdom and to export to the rest of Europe. The plantations eventually failed, but the town of Mtwara still remains. Mtwara makes an excellent supply stop for trips to the Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park and it is a good base for exploring nearby Mikindani.
The town of Mtwara acts as a gateway into Southern Tanzania for tourism and business alike. Access to and from Dar es Salaam is easy with frequent and regular flights and sailings. Mtwara is a laid back town and is spread out over a large area. To the north around Shangani are some good beaches, Shangani is where many of the more affluent people in Mtwara live. Towards the centre of town lies the main commercial area, here you can find the Post office, banks as well as some more expensive shops. The market is located towards the southern end of town.