The park is located in Mtwara district, in the southeast of Tanzania, and it extends the border of Mozambique. It was established in 2000 and it covers 650sqkms, of which 33% land. The edges of the park stretch form Ruvuma Estuary in the north, to Mnazi Bay and Ras Msangakuu. The park is composed of salt pans, coral reefs, mudflats, rocky and sandy shoreline, mangrove, Seagrass, lagoonal patch reef, 3 islands which include: Naponda, Mongo and Kisiwa Kidogo, and several small rocky islets. It’s also a home for marine life like sea turtles, fish, among other sea creatures. Birds and wildlife have a home too in the park. The park has 11 villages and 8 sub-villages, and over 30,000 people have a home in the park and depend absolutely on the Marine resources to support their way of life sometimes have used un authorized fishing equipment and thus destructing nature. It should also be mentioned that gas was discovered in Mnanzi bay and has both become a center of attraction and also a source of income generation for the country and in the long run development. The park is an adventurous place.
How to access the park
There hardly any flights that connect to the park. The only way to access it is by road and water transport.
Road transport-Between Mtwara and Msimbati, in each direction, there’s a pick up on a daily basis in the morning.
If you’re driving from Mtwara, take the main road from the roundabout, which lies in the south, for 4km to the village of Mangamba, then branch left at the signpost onto the Mahurunga road and continue about 18km to Madimba. From here you will turn left and continue 20 km to Msimbati. The road is unpaved but in a very good condition.
Water transport: There small boats and a small ferry travel between the Shangani dhow port docking Mtwara and Msangamkuu Peninsula.
What to carry
There are essential items that you will need to carry during your safari in the park. In case you can’t carry all, some of the items can be hired at an affordable fee. These include; a hat, sportswear, hiking boots or shoes, sun screen, your favorite snacks, drinking water (bottled), sun glasses, a light rain jacket for the occasional rain, insect repellent, a backpack (waterproof), gloves, light long sleeved shirts and pants, a notebook, a camera with fully charged spare batteries, a mosquito net, a guide book, a pair of binoculars and warm clothing for the cold nights.
Things to do
The park is a home to most of the unique species, you will get to enjoy this activity to the fullest. The peak of this activity is in the wet season when migratory birds visit the park. Endeavor to have binoculars with you to have amazing views of these creatures. Guides will lead you to bird’s favorite places and you will enjoy what you will see especially on the sea shores. Await to see the likes of lilac-breasted rollers, woolly necked stork, and fish eagles, and many more water birds both in the dry and wet season.
Marine life viewing
One of the highlight of the place. You will have an opportunity seeing creatures in the sea. The different species of green and hawksbill turtles, indopacific numpback dolphin, humpback whale, fish of all shapes and color, and above all have a look at the different coral reefs in the see. These can be seen on your boat ride, while taking a dive, or snorkeling. You will have an opportunity to see these creatures feed, nurse, and have a wonderful time in the sea.
After your tour in the park, you will enjoy a relaxation in the clear waters of the sea. You may also sunbathing as you feel the cool breeze.
Visit historical places
Visitors can visit historical spots at Ruvula where eccentric British Latham Leslie Moore built his house. You will enjoy the reflections of the historical days and also enjoy the way of life of the locals.
The park is a magnificent place to enjoy this activity. You will enjoy diving in patch, outer reef drop-offs, and coral reefs. There companies that give diving lessons, even for first timers. It is equipped with diving facilities and other facilities for visitors. The center also offers lessons for first timers, thus you won’t be left out in the activity.
This activity is so enjoyable for it rewards you with pleasant views of sea life. If it’s your first time to enjoy it you will be briefed how it’s done. They get an opportunity of swimming with the turtles and also get chances of swimming with sharks. It’s a lot of fun. It’s normally done in the small village of Ruvula.
These will be enjoyed in the morning the afternoons or any other time as per tourists need. These reward you with the cool environment on water, you will enjoy pleasant views of the area, and you will enjoy a photo moment in the middle of the ocean, and also see water birds as you sip a drink.
Guided nature walks
walks will give you an adventurous experience. You will tour the vegetation in
the area, see unique plantations, mangrove trees, see the unique plant species
and trees, among others, and also walk along the shores of the ocean to have a
look at the coral gardens. You will be rewarded with pleasant views and also a
comfort of touring the different corners of the park.
This activity is both for first timers and he experienced. To enjoy this activity, you will need to have a fishing guide with you, and also have to obtain a permit for fishing. The ocean is endowed with fish and with the required equipment, you will have the pleasure of catching not one but many of them. Along the fishing journey look out for the pleasant views of the beautiful sea, and the water birds in the air.
There various communities of people within the park and once you pay them a visit, you will learn a lot form their cultures. These have survived in this park and they call it home. You will enjoy their way of life and may be learn something from them.
When to access the park
The park has the dry and wet seasons and it’s enjoyable throughout the year although the dry season has been the most preferred season compared to the wet.
Dry Season (June-October and January-February)
The period is characterized of mostly sunny weather, and close to no cases of rain. During this period, the waters have warm temperatures favoring most of the activities practiced in water. Such as diving, snorkeling among others.
During the dry season, the waters are so clear giving tourists an opportunity to view the marine life clearly.
Activities in water are better enjoyed under the sun. It never gets too hot in the park so tourists get an opportunity of enjoying all corners of the place.
Wet Season (From November –December and March-May)
The season is characterized of short rains at the beginning and a few cases of sunny weather, and the last wet season is composed of heavy rains. The first wet season is very okay. Short rains do little or no harm to tourist activities.
It’s in the first season that registers the peak of bird watching. More migratory birds come to the park and during this period they can be viewed.
During the wet season, it’s a low season, the park and beaches are less crowded, and the rates are lower compared to the dry season.
However, when it rains water becomes cooler than normal and the winds, can disorganize activities.
The park has several bird species which can be seen once you visit the park, some of which have a home in the park and also more birds that visit the park in the early wet season. Among the many you will see, you won’t miss the likes of Crab Plovers, grey parrots, African fish eagles, sun birds, and vultures, among others. Carry your binoculars to enjoy these creatures and the guide will direct you.
The park was primarily conserved to protect marine life and other surrounding features. The sea has species of fish, turtles, dolphins, whales, and many more, dugong (though last seen in 1992), and sharks, among other species. You will be able to see these creatures during snorkeling, diving, or on nature walk on the sea shores. You will see them enjoying their way of life and you will just be appreciating nature.
Accommodation in the park is limited. It’s available more with camping options and a few bungalows at Ruvula village on the Msimbati peninsula.
- Lindi Paradise House
- The Old Boma Hotel
- Sea View Beach Resort
- Cashewnut Hotel
- Southern Cross Hotel Mtwara
- Ambiere House
- Luwa Evergreen Hotel