There is currently no reliable passenger ferry service on the eastern side of Lake Nyasa. Once it resumes, the boat stop for Matema is actually at Lyulilo village, about 25 minutes on foot from the main Matema junction. Just follow the main ‘road’ going southeast from the junction, paralleling the lakeshore, and ask for the bandari (harbour).
From Tukuyu, pick-ups to Ipinda via Ibanda and Kyela (Tsh2500, three hours) leave around 8am most mornings from the roundabout by the NBC bank. Although drivers sometimes say they are going all the way to Matema, generally they go only as far as Ipinda. Once in Ipinda, pick-ups run onwards to Matema (Tsh300, one hour, 35km). Returning from Matema, departures are in the morning. The only direct buses to Mbeya depart before dawn.
From Kyela, there are several vehicles daily from about 1pm onwards to Ipinda (Tsh1500), a few of which continue on to Matema (Tsh3000, two hours). Departures from Matema back to Kyela run in the morning. From Kyela, it’s also fairly easy to hire a vehicle to drop you off at Matema (from about Tsh70,000).
There are also usually two direct buses daily between Mbeya's Nane Nane bus stand and Matema (Tsh10,000, six hours), departing Mbeya between 9am and 10am. All transport in Matema departs from the main junction near the hospital.
Car & Motorcycle
From Kyela, the signposted turn-off to Ipinda and Matema is about 3km north of the town centre. From here, it’s about 14km to Ipinda, and another 25km to Matema along the newly paved road. Allow 30 minutes for the 40km stretch.
There’s also a shorter, scenic, but very rough route directly from Tukuyu to Ipinda, which should only be attempted in a 4WD. About 20km out of Tukuyu en route to Ipinda off this road is Masoko Crater Lake, into which fleeing Germans allegedly dumped a small fortune of gold pieces and coins during WWI.