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Explore the Zanzibari forest of Jozani

Here are some compelling reasons for you to take advantage of any Zanzibar specials and plan your Tanzanian holiday around a Jozani Forest tour…

Explore the Zanzibari forest of Jozani

“Jozani” sounds like an intense art film based on an island, but the actual place isn’t too far from that picture. The Jozani Forest is part of the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park – the only national park in Zanzibar, and the largest near-natural forest on the island.

Something of a big deal has been made about the forest’s celebrity inhabitant – the Red Colobus Monkey. It is endemic to Zanzibar and there are only between 1 000 and 2 000 remaining in the world, so take advantage of any Zanzibar specials and plan your Tanzanian holiday around a Jozani Forest tour.

Let the chestnut-coloured eyes of the Red Colobus lead you into the dense thicket of the forest on a three-hour guided tour and discover Zanzibar’s biodiversity, which has evolved on this fossil coral bed. The forest is made up of over 100 tree species belonging to more than 43 families of trees, which have planted their roots in the coral rag and salt marsh areas in the reserve. The mangrove forests next to the coral bed have been incorporated into the conservation area, making for a highly diverse ecosystem that includes the monkeys, bush babies, other monkey species, a variety of duiker and small antelope, tree hyraxes and a wide variety of butterflies and birds. Don’t forget to buy a camera if you’re planning to visit this remarkable area.

Some parts of the Jozani Forest tour will have you tramping through the leaves on the forest floor, while other parts will see you navigating along an above-water boardwalk where the high water table (not helped by seasonal flooding) rises above the ground level. Also in the forest is the ocean – who would have thought you’d be able to see fish in a forest?! But the mangroves provide the perfect nursery for young tropical fish, who share the muddy water with crabs and molluscs.

There to support the variety of fauna is a foundation of old tree and plant species. The 200-year-old “Mother Mahogany” is a tourist attraction, as well as the huge-leafed raffia fern. Tropical flowers provide watering holes for the dainty and brightly-coloured sunbirds, and feeding troughs for Zanzibar’s 50-odd butterfly species.

The Jozani Chwaka National Park used to be funded by private international donors, but it is now the fees of the park’s tourism as well as local hands that keep the park going. Take a notebook and camera with you to document the number of species of plant, flying creatures, swimming creatures and land animals you see in the forest.