Southern Tanzania and Mnazi Bay

Along the southern coast of Tanzania, there is an old Swahili town and the surrounding beaches of the estuary and Mnazi Bay Marine Park this park makes a tranquil and quiet alternative to larger beach destinations to the north.Travelling to this area is an adventure in itself. With rugged almost non-existent roads and a small airstrip; if off the beaten track appeals to you them this is the place of your dreams. Here you will have the Indian Ocean Coast, and the Swahili ruins, all to yourself ? not a tourist in site - 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 exploration to the willing visitor. In town, a visit to the old German House and the slave market is an interesting day excursion from the coconut palm fringed beaches that stretch endlessly south.A small town with the lovely and gentle sounding name of Mtwara is close by, along the rugged patch of coastline that leads to Mozambique. This area for the moment is undiscovered by tourism - it is a wonderful place to visit.

If you want a remote destination and love deserted white beaches then this marine park is idyllic. The town has one site of particular interest, St. Paul's Church, which houses some remarkable murals of Biblical scenes painted by German priests.

The town is close to the Mnazi Bay Marine Park [Coconut Tree Marine Park] where it is possible to experience some of the most isolated dive sites on the coast. The town makes an excellent supply stop for trips to the Marine Park.This bay was once known as the place to pick up dhow transport to Mozambique. Nowadays, visitors are motivated more by the miles of white sand and the presence of coral reefs close to the shore, which provide excellent snorkeling - even at low tide is good for exploring the coral reefs.There are many water birds here, particularly waders which include [for those who are interested] the Greater Sand - Crab Plover - Brown-headed Parrot - Mangrove Kingfisher - Four-coloured Bushshrike and the Zanzibar - Black-bellied Glossy-starling.

The area is recognized as being internationally important for its biodiversity, with a variety of mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs that provide livelihoods to the local communities. Mnazi bay is quite shallow and just to the north of the Ruvuma River. It is protected on the seaward side by the Rawira peninsula to the south and by a series of small islands to the north. The Tanzanian government and the local people are looking to the future and plan to develop the area for tourism ? it is an ideal location to unwind after a game safari in the Southern Circuit of Tanzania.

At the moment there are twelve villages in the, this area is one of the poorest and least developed in Tanzania with the population relying on subsistence fishing and agriculture. To Tanzania's credit and the progressive legislation for Marine Parks, the local communities are extensively involved in the running of the park which will ensure that the local communities benefit from tourism.

.Tanzania is an exciting place to visit and offers more than Kilimanjaro and the Game Safari Circuits for more information look at http://www.tanzania-info. and ? use tourism to change lives.

By: Ian Williamson

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