While turquoise beaches and swaying palm trees are the normal pictures of Zanzibar, there’s also a national park forest on the island, known as Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park (or just Jozani Forest).
I’m going to admit straight up, visiting Jozani Forest will probably not be the highlight of your visit (unless you REALLY love monkeys, and they are pretty cool), but if it’s combined with a spice tour, or if you’re on your way from Stone Town to the East Coast beaches, it’s one of the popular things to do in Zanzibar.
If you go by yourself, the entrance fee is 12,000 TZS ($7.30), and that includes a guide.
Otherwise, all tour operators in Zanzibar offer tours to the Jozani Forest.
The main reason to visit the Jozani forest is to see the Zanzibar red colobus monkeys.
These cool looking guys are related to the black and white colobus monkeys. Not so long ago, they were in danger of becoming extinct, but thanks to efforts at the Jozani forest, there are estimates of about 2,000 of them now, most of them hanging around the Jozani forest.
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As opposed to other monkeys that either run from you, or the more likelihood of attack you and steal your camera, red colobus monkeys are incredibly relaxed and un-bothersome.
I’ve seen a lot of mischievous monkeys in my life, but this was the first time I could just sit down on the ground and red colobus monkeys would just walk by me, a few feet away, without grabbing or anything.
You could actually looks these creatures in their eyes and they might even smile! Here a red colobus monkey, in his youth, is about to tear a piece of bark off the branch to eat.
I thought seeing the red colobus monkeys at Jozani forest, without them disturbing anyone, was quite impressive.
After spending some time hanging out with the red colobus monkeys we continued our tour of the Jozani forest, passing along a few trails through the flora and fauna.
There are all sorts of unique and interesting plant and tree species.
Much of what goes into local daily living, home construction, medicines, and tools, all still comes from the forests or sea of Zanzibar.
Another part of the Jozani forest visit is the well preserved mangrove forest.
We walked a short loop on an elevated wooden walkway, passing through the mangroves above the salt water.
On our drive back to Stone Town, we not only stopped to take a Zanzibar spice tour, but we also searched far and wide for durian (a few years earlier, I had had the privilege of eating lots of durian in Zanzibar).
Unfortunately we failed, and only came up with a baby-sized papaya.
Jozani forest is worth a visit for the amazing red colobus monkeys!