Jozani Forest and the Unique Red Colobus Monkeys of Zanzibar

By Mark Wiens 12 Comments
Arriving at Jozani Forest in Zanzibar
Arriving at Jozani Forest in Zanzibar

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).

Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park
Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

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.

Two baby monkeys chasing each other
Two baby monkeys chasing each other

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.

Watching a red colobus
Watching a red colobus

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.

Red colobus monkey in the Jozani Forest
Red colobus monkey in the Jozani Forest

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.

Strolling through the Jozani forest in Zanzibar
Strolling through the Jozani forest in Zanzibar

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.

Interesting plants
Interesting plants

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.

Salt accumulated on a mangrove leaf
Salt accumulated on a mangrove leaf

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.

A kid-sized papaya
A kid-sized papaya

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!



12 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Safari Junkie

    10 months ago

    I agree with you! Its not The highlight, but i enjoyed it anyway. Actually I liked the mangrove board walk much more than the forest.

  • Gabriel

    3 years ago

    MONKEYSSS!!! Shared one of your pictures on our facebook page =P. Also, that is one giant papaya.

  • Kevin

    3 years ago

    Even if it wasn’t a highlight, I’m still jealous of your experience. Monkeys are such fascinating animals! Thumbs up on these photos.

  • Mike | Earthdrifter

    3 years ago

    Love the expression on that first monkey’s face. What a cool, relaxed breed of monkey.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Mike, some of the coolest monkeys I’ve seen!

  • Rebecca

    3 years ago

    Oh they’re so cute!!

  • Sand In My Suitcase

    3 years ago

    You’re right. Jozani Forest is not the highlight of a visit to Zanzibar – but the red Colobus monkeys are cute! But the beaches? Now they’re stunning. As are some of the totally deluxe resorts like Baraza and andBeyond Mnemba Island Lodge. We also visited Zanzibar recently at the end of our Africa safari (you can read our Zanzibar posts on our blog :-).

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Yes, I agree, the beaches are stunning. Did you get to stay on Mnemba island!?