Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, located in Zanzibar, is a unique and biodiverse site that allows tourists to see one of Africa’s rarest primates, the red colobus monkey. This detailed travel guide will walk you through all you need to know about visiting Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park in 2024/2025 and having a memorable experience with these captivating species and the park’s outstanding natural splendor.

ABOUT JOZANI CHWAKA BAY NATIONAL PARK

The main lure for most international tourists to Zanzibar is the island’s fantastic beaches, which are enhanced by the diving and snorkeling opportunities that abound on the outlying reefs and the captivating, unique ambiance of Stone Town. The interior, on the other hand, is frequently disregarded, to the point where many visitors see nothing of it other than a few views through a car window as they transit from the airport to their preferred beach resort.

 The main draw of the underrated interior for natural history enthusiasts is Jozani Forest, which is now part of Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park and is home to the island’s largest concentration of endemic Kirk’s red colobus monkeys, as well as diverse birdlife and other enticing forest creatures.

Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park, Zanzibar’s only national park, protects a range of woodland ecosystems, the most important of which are the island’s largest-surviving stand of mature indigenous forest and the enormous mangroves that line the southern end of Chwaka Bay. The park stretches over more than 100 kilometers across the narrow, low-lying isthmus that connects the island’s northwestern and southeastern halves. During the rainy season, the area is prone to flooding, giving rise to its distinct’swamp-forest’ habitat, and the enormous moisture-loving trees, palm and fern stands, high water table, and damp air give the forest a chilly, ‘tropical’ feel.

Locals had felled trees and gathered other forest products for ages, but commercial use began in the 1930s, when the forest was purchased by an Arab landowner and a sawmill was built. The forest was taken over by the colonial administration in the late 1940s, and some replanting occurred. When Jozani was designated as a forest reserve in 1952, most of the island’s species collected here as similar habitats elsewhere were removed to make room for cultivation. The forest was designated as a natural reserve in the 1960s, but the trees and animals were not effectively protected. Locals cut wood for construction and fuel, while certain animals were hunted for food or because they harmed crops in surrounding areas.

Nonetheless, Jozani Forest has retained most of its original natural character, and exploitation of its natural resources has largely stopped since 2004, when it was united with Chwaka Bay to the north and designated as Zanzibar’s first (and so far only) national park. Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park, created through a collaboration between the Zanzibar government’s Commission for Natural Resources and the charity CARE International and funded by a variety of sources, including the government of Austria, the Ford Foundation, and the Global Environment Facility, now has clear goals for protecting natural resources and improving conditions for local people and wildlife in the area. It is also a popular day trip destination from Stone Town and the east coast resorts, and tourism revenue contributes significantly to its protection.

Jozani has a healthy bird population, with over 100 species documented, though many woodland birds are secretive and difficult to observe. Species occurring here include Kenya crested guineafowl (Guttera pucherani), emerald-spotted wood dove (Turtur chalcospilos), little greenbul (Andropadus chalcospilos), sombre greenbul (Andropadus importunus), cardinal woodpecker (Dendropicos fuscescens), red-capped robin-chat (Cossypha natalensis), dark-backed weaver (Ploceus bicolor), golden weaver (Ploceus xanthops), olive sunbird (Nectarinia olivacea), and crowned hornbill (Lophoceros alboterminatus).

Other occupants of Jozani include a population of Zanzibar Sykes’ monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis albogularis), an archipelago-endemic subspecies that you are likely to spot on a guided walk. Ader’s duiker (Cephalophus adersi), a species of small antelope found exclusively on Zanzibar and some areas of the Kenyan coast, and the even tinier suni antelope (Neotragus moschatus moschatus) live in the jungle. They are both incredibly shy and unlikely to be seen. Ader’s duiker is now nearly extinct in Kenya, and the IUCN lists it as vulnerable, with the best chance of survival on Zanzibar Island. 

Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park
Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

HOW TO GET TO JOZANI CHWAKA BAY NATIONAL PARK/GETTING THERE AND AWAY

North of Pete Village, on the main route connecting Zanzibar Town with the southern portion of the east coast, is the entrance to Jozani Forest. The area is well-marked, and the mangrove boardwalk and the services of a guide are included in the entrance price.

Jozani is frequently included in east-coast and dolphin trips offered by several tour companies, but other convenient ways to get here are via dalla-dalla (Nos. 309, 310, 324, or 326), rental bikes, cars, or public buses (Routes 9 and 10). Or else hop on a tourist minibus bound for the east coast and get off here. After visiting the forest, you can flag down a car and head to the coast or back to Zanzibar Town because this road is frequently used by both tourist minibuses and other traffic throughout the day. It’s advisable to be waiting by the roadside by 17.00, when the number of buses reduces.

Despite being home to the greatest area of mangrove forest on Zanzibar, Chwaka Bay has not seen much development in terms of tourism. However, those who are feeling very daring may choose to take a boat across the bay, which is located between the southeast coast and the settlement of Chwaka.

THE RED COLOBUS MONKEYS OF JOZANI CHWAKA BAY NATIONAL PARK

Seeing the red colobus monkeys is one of the primary attractions of Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park. These primates are unique to Zanzibar; they have black faces, long white hair tufts, and bright red fur. They are enjoyable to watch because of their cheerful demeanor and impressive acrobatic skills.

There are multiple troops of red colobus monkeys in the park, with each troop having between 20 and 30 members. In the park’s wooded regions, these armies are sometimes observed wandering aimlessly, swinging between the trees, and nibbling on leaves, fruits, and flowers. For those who are passionate about nature, seeing these endearing animals in their own environment is an absolutely unforgettable experience.

 EXPLORING JOZANI CHWAKA BAY NATIONAL PARK: HERE ARE THINGS TO DO

Walking Trails

Well-kept walking routes in Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park let visitors explore the park’s varied ecosystems and get up close and personal with red colobus monkeys. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the park as you stroll along the approved routes through the woodland regions. A variety of birdlife and other wildlife, including bushbabies and Sykes monkeys, should be observed throughout the route.

Mangrove Decking/boardwalk

Take a stroll along the boardwalk to appreciate the mangrove forest’s distinct beauty. You can navigate the wetland habitat while causing the least amount of disturbance to the delicate ecosystem thanks to the elevated path. Admire the mangroves’ complex root systems and discover their significance in maintaining the shoreline and offering a home for a variety of marine life.

Wildlife Viewing Platforms

Several elevated viewing platforms are thoughtfully positioned throughout Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park to offer tourists prime vantage points for spotting the red colobus monkeys. You may watch the monkeys as they interact with one another, navigate the trees, and search for food from these platforms. You can get better views and amazing close-ups of these fascinating animals if you have binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens.

PARK REGULATIONS AND GUIDELINES

Following these rules and regulations is crucial to guaranteeing the preservation of the park’s ecosystems and wildlife.

  • To reduce disturbance to wildlife and the environment, stick to the approved routes and trails.
  • Refrain from approaching the red colobus monkeys in a polite manner, and do not attempt to pet or feed them.
  • Avert littering. To keep the park in immaculate shape, dispose of trash in the specified containers or take it outside with you.
  • Obey the directions given by park rangers and guides, who are available to help and offer guidance.
  • Keep in mind that the park is a protected area and that it is totally forbidden to hunt, fish, or remove any flora or animals.
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