Els Slots (The Netherlands):
This conservation area on Zanzibar is the only place in the world to see the endangered Kirk's Red Colobus monkeys. Only a couple of thousand of them are left, but they are not shy. Sometimes you'll see groups of them on the main road between Zanzibar City and the beach resorts on the East Coast. With a guided tour from Jozani Park (entrance fee 8 US dollar) you can meet them up close. The monkeys even allow to be touched (probably not a very wise act, but they took an interest in a little boy that was visiting at the same time as me and let him stroke them and hold hands). They are cute and playful, and usually hang around in big groups.
A visit to the monkeys is only part of the experience in this last bit of original forest that is left on Zanzibar. One of the rangers gave me a 1.5 hour tour. It started with a short bike ride to the mangrove forest. Although I had seen the peculiar ways of mangroves before (Sundarbans!), this still was a worthwhile area to see and to have explained by the guide. He pointed out lots of little crabs. And also showed how high the salt water coming in from the sea sometimes gets here (that was the second tsunami reminder during my Zanzibar trip - the hotels and restaurants in the popular beach town of Jambiani are also built very close to the sea and do not seem to be able to withstand any major flood).
We finished near the park headquarters, where there are short trails in the forest (eucalyptus, palm trees, etc.). Animals live there too, but they are seldom seen here. We only saw tiny frogs and lizards.
In all I found Jozani a worthwhile detour from the beach or Stone Town. The guides are serious about conservation and the park looks well maintained. There's also a little cafeteria on site for a drink or a meal. Opening hours are 7.30 - 17.00 daily.
Date posted: January 2009
Have you been to Jozani - Chwaka Bay Conservation Area? Share your experiences!