Centrally located on the island of Zanzibar, the Jozani Forest is home to over 2,000 Red Colobus monkeys. Unlike other black and white Colobus monkeys found across Africa, the red monkey is unique to Zanzibar. The forest is protected by the Jozani-Chwaka National Park and was declared a nature reserve in the 1960’s. The only one of its kind on the island!
There are many tours available to book from Stonetown, otherwise your hotel should be able to help arrange a taxi for you. Alternatively, hire a car like we did and drive there yourself.
As you approach the entrance to the National Park, keep your eyes peeled! If you are lucky, you’ll get your first glimpse of the native Colobus monkeys in the surrounding trees. It isn’t advisable to stop along the road here, so continue into the forest where you’ll get a much closer look at the monkeys.
Entry to the National Park costs $8 per adult and tickets do not need to be booked in advance. This cost includes a guided walk through the forest with an opportunity to get up close with the monkeys. You will also have access to the mangrove boardwalk, and a forest natural trail which you can explore with your guide or on your own. Allow approximately an hour to visit the monkeys, with an additional 60 – 90 minutes to walk along the boardwalk and nature trail.
Once we paid our entry fee, we were allocated our own guide. I really liked that this became a personal tour, and we weren’t bunched together with anyone else. Perhaps during busier periods they may group visitors together though. Worth checking in advance! Note, your guide will most probably expect an additional tip after your tour, as the majority of the entry fee goes directly to the park.
The forest is split into two sections, separated by the main road. The reception and walking trails are located on one side, with the monkeys all being located on the other side. With this mind, our guide jumped in our car with us, as we drove over to the other side of the forest.
Our guide walked us through the forest, helping us to spot the monkeys along the way. He happily chatted to us about them, answered all our questions, and gave us plenty of time to look around. We had plenty of time to take photos and wander off slightly as we wished.
Red Colobus monkeys are native only to Zanzibar, but you should be able to see other monkeys and birds too. Visitors should be conscious that they are essentially entering the monkey’s natural environment, so should be respectful of that. The forest appeared clean, and we didn’t see any litter on the forest floor or around.
Everyone seemed to be behaving themselves, and thankfully there wasn’t any sightings of anyone provoking the monkeys in anyway. This meant the monkeys were extremely relaxed around visitors, and we had several of occasions where we got to see some teeny tiny babies with their monkey mothers! Despite this, you should not approach or try to touch the monkeys. Remember, these ‘cute’ looking furballs are wild primates and will have no issues biting you should they feel threatened!
After we walked through the monkey forest, we drove back over to the other area of the National Park. Our guide walked us though the forest nature trail, where he continued to point out any wildlife or flora and fauna that we passed.
I would definitely recommend a visit to Jozani, especially if you have your own vehicle. We actually hired our car for the entirety of our stay in Zanzibar, so included our visit to the forest as part of a day out along the Eastern coast. Alternatively, combine a visit to Jozani with the nearby Butterfly Centre, or Zala Park (not to be confused with Zanzibar Park which is a zoo!).
End your day trip with dinner at The Rock restaurant. Built on a rock (hence the name!), you might need to take a small rowing boat to reach the entrance once the tide is in! At high tide the restaurant becomes surrounded by nothing but the ocean, completely isolating the restaurant on it’s very own island. Without a doubt, this is the best restaurant on the island, so don’t miss out!