There are several buses daily from Dar es Salaam which you can take from Ubungo, Temeke or Mbagala bus stations. Average travel time is about 8 hours. Note that during the rainy season parts of the road can get flooded; it's usually still passable but this can add significantly to the journey time. The companies operating the route change regularly. When picking a bus go for one with four seats in a row, the ones with five can be pretty cramped. Sitting in the back half of the bus can be somewhat traumatic during the non-paved part of the journey.
From Lindi there are buses throughout the morning; in the afternoon you can make the journey by first getting a bus to Mnazi Mmoja (Mingoyo) then catching an onward bus from there (~2 hours).
From Masasi there are buses throughout the day the last one leave around mid afternoon (about 4 or 5 hours).
From Newala there is a bus in the morning, after that there are pickups throughout the day (nb. these can be packed and quite painful on the dirt road).
From Mozambique there are pickups that meet the public transport arriving the other side of the border.
Precision Air also fly from Dar es Salaam; their timetable is erratic.
Mtwara was designed to be a major town and exporter of ground nuts, however when the ground nut scheme collapsed before it was started, the town never really finished being built. As a result the town is spread out, which can leave you with a bit of a walk to get between places. Bicycles are a great way to get around town and can be hired from the market for 2000-3000/= per day.
Taxis, Tuktuks (little three wheeled vehicles called bajaji in Swahili), and motorbike taxis (pikipiki in swahili) are available around town. Expect to pay 2000-4000/= for a taxi journey about town, 1000-2000/= for a bajaji and 1000/= for a motobike taxi.
If you do nothing else in this beautiful costal town, you must go to the fish market. Simply ask, "Soko la samaki liko wapi?" and you will be on your way. It is beautiful and swahili Tanzania at its finest.
Diving: Mikindani Bay offers some of the most unexplored diving in the Western Indian Ocean.
Eco2, Mnaida Street, Mikindani (a 20 minute taxi or bajaj ride from Mtwara), ☎ +255 (0)784 855 833, +255 (0)783 279 446 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . eco2 is a PADI dive centre offering low-impact scuba diving and dive safaris, and promoting marine environmental conservation and education through research. Mikindani and Mnazi Bays are the locations for some of the most spectacular, undiscovered diving in East Africa. Here the Southern Equatorial Current meets the African coast creating a unique ecosystem with a wealth of marine life from across the Indian Ocean. This phenomenon means the area is now recognized as the centre of biological diversity for the East African Coast and over 258 species of coral have been identified - more than anywhere else on the East African Coast.Dive prices start from $100, tailored packages of accommodation and diving can be put together on request.
Ayayoru Carvings and Tours, Sokoine Rd. (Skoya area en route to Soko Kuu.), ☎ 0787194196, . A locally owned and operated small-business, Ayayoru Carvings and Tours offers various trip options around the region -- especially focusing on cultural and historical tours -- by connecting a collaboration of skilled locals varying from traditional sailboat captains to groups of traditional dancers. Some trips of note include: sailing on a traditional "dhow," seeing traditional Makonde dancers, Mikindani town historical tour, Mnazi Bay Marine Park trips, dugout canoe rental, etc.
ADEA, (nr. bus stand). An arts and crafts cooperative producing high quality handicrafts, mostly based around tingatinga painting.
Hendricks Family, (Ziwani). The Hendricks family are the most famous of the makonde carvers still in Mtwara. Their work is available in town, or you can visit their carving workshop in Ziwani village just outside Mtwara. It's easiest to reach by vehicle, head out of Mtwara on the airport road and take the turn off for Mozambique / Mnazi Bay Marine park. It's a couple of miles down that road. They are most famous for their 'cloud' carvings which are carved out of a single piece of wood and make a cage out of lots of interconnected branches.
Carving Stand, (end of india street, nr posta). A small stand selling a range of Makonde carvings. If you're a good negotiator this is the best value place to buy your Makonde carvings.
Gift shop, (at Msemo (see Eat)). The gift shop attached to the hotel/restaurant has a decent range of local crafts.
Ray shop, (Bima). For general supplies there are a bunch of shops at the Bima made out of old shipping containers. They all contain fairly similar things but Ray Shop usually has the best selection.
Makonde Mini Mart, Aga Khan street. A little more ex-pat orientated than the container shops at the Bima. If you can't find what you're looking for there this is probably the best bet.
Market (soko), (nr bus stand). The market is the best place to pick up local goods from food and clothes to traditional medicines. Generally bargaining is not expected and the same price is given to locals and tourists alike.
Dubai Restraunt, (nr Bus stand). A standard Tanzanian place offering all the usual rice and ugali based dished, a cut above most of the others around. Expect to pay 2000-3000/=.
Bus stand. It may seem odd to recommend the bus stand as a place to eat, but in the evening the buses are removed and it becomes a popular place for food. Snacks and meals are available from 50/= for a small snack to 3000/= for a meal. Alcoholic drinks are available.
Msemo (aka Southern Cross), (Shangani). This is the only real option for western food in town. It's by the sea and is a nice place to while away the afternoon. During the day it's about a 20 minute walk from the center of town, after dark it's probably better to go by taxi / tuktuk (bajaji) / motorbike (pikipiki).
Proactive Min Supermarket, Bima Taxi stand (Bima,Opposite NMB Bank), ☎ 0787 339 699 (email@example.com), . 14 hrs open. New establishment offering all types of food supplies including Western styled meat products, groceries, snacks, icecream, soft drinks, condiments, fruits, juice, and more. You can also send an order list for delivery.
Korosho Lodge, (Tanu Road, next to exim bank, near bima). A place offering the usual variety of Tanzanian - Indian food. Set in a courtyard, the surroundings are uninspiring but peaceful. expect to pay around 7-8000/=.
Msemo (aka Southern Cross), Shangani. This is the only real option for western food in town. It's by the sea and is a nice place to while away the afternoon. During the day it's about a 20 minute walk from the center of town, after dark it's probably better to go by taxi / tuktuk (bajaji) / motorbike (pikipiki).
Bima. This is an area of town where there are a cluster of bars that gets a bit of an atmosphere in the evening.
There are plenty of guest housed in the 4,000/= to 30,000/= around town, many clustered near the bus stand. Quality varies but you'll get what you pay for. Tell a taxi / tuktuk (bajaji) driver how much you want to spend and they'll take you to somewhere appropriate.
Msemo (aka Southern Cross), Shangani. This is the main (only) tourist place in town, it's right on the sea front and offers wonderful views over Mikindani bay.$50.
Ten Degrees South, Mnaida Street, Mikindani (a 20 minute taxi or bajaj ride from town), ☎ +255 (0)766 059 380, . In the town of Mikindani just outside Mtwara. A small lodge offering comfortable and clean accommodation for all budgets. Ten Degrees has a shaded open air bar and restaurant, and a Sundowner platform that enjoys stunning views across Mikindani Bay.$20-60 per room, per night.
In general Mtwara is a safe town, however it is best to take caution after dark. A good rule of thumb is if there are other people around it's probably safe, if it's deserted it's probably best to take a vehicle. This is especially true in the residential areas around the town center.