Zanzibar (and the Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park located on it)
Although Zanzibar and its neighboring tropical island of Pemba do not have the status of a reserve or national park, they are still worth mentioning here because of their aquatic life, some rare primates and fascinating history. Zanzibar is often visited after a safari to add an element of complete relaxation and exoticism to their active hectic trip.
Zanzibar and Pemba lie on Tanza’s upper Indian Ocean coastline, which has been influenced by the many intermingling cultures that have formed the basis of today’s Zanzibar over the centuries. This confusing mixture is a combination of African-Asian culture, with a touch of Persian, Arabic, Indian and Chinese influences, along with Dutch, Portuguese and English influences in addition. These islands became famous for their spices and the slave trade practiced here.
The Persians of Shiraz and the Arabs of Oman settled here and ruled over the Sultanate of Zanzibar, which explains the Arab influences and Islam that have survived on the island to this day. The simple exteriors of many houses in Zanzibar are brought to life by massive carved and studded doors, many of which look shabby and already peeling. Indian influence is expressed here in colored glassware and ornate balconies with beautiful ornaments, and in the fact that Gujarati merchants sell almost everything here – from carnations to antiques. The English heritage here is monolithic majestic buildings occupying the less accessible parts of Stone Town.
The islands are everything you would expect from such a tropical getaway. Incredible beaches, simple fishing villages, relaxing resorts, peace and solitude if you so desire, or the hustle and bustle of the narrow streets of an ancient city.
ANIMALS AND BIRDS
Palm-fringed white beaches make for the perfect tropical scene. Add to this the warm water and the pristine sea with coral gardens inhabited by colorful fish, and the picture is complete. These islands offer world class diving and snorkeling as well as deep sea fishing in the Pemba and Mnemba channels.
A visit to the gingerbread farm will bring you an indescribable experience, with its pungent smells of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, ginger and black pepper and exotic fruits such as tamarind, guava, mango, syzygium fruits and bananas. The rare red colobus can also be seen on some farms, especially in the Jozani forest in southern Zanzibar and in the forests of Pemba Island. In addition, the Jozani Park is home to white-throated monkeys, Galagidae, more than 50 species of butterflies and 40 species of birds. The nocturnal Zanzibar tree hyrax, which has four “toes” on its front paws and three on its hind legs, is believed to be the first species of hyrax to have adapted to life in the forest.
Another animal that lives in the forests of the island of Unguja is the unrivaled endemic Zanzibar leopard. According to local legend, these possibly extinct animals have been given a mythical status and the name “chui” and are part of popular superstition. People believe that sorcerers keep these animals as pets and scare people by making up stories about leopards appearing as spirits and disappearing into thin air. This was last reported in 1999, and people working on the “coral limestones” in the south and east of Ungula Island confidently claim that the Zanzibar leopards are not extinct, although they have not been seen since 2003 (then two individuals). Photographic evidence of the existence of this species is currently preserved only in the form of a museum effigy in the Zanzibar Museum and several skins in museums in London and Massachusetts in the United States. Smaller spotted leopards, which are biological products of the larger animal, can now be seen in Zanzibar.
The vegetation layer of the seabed of Chwaka Bay, bordered by mangrove forests, is a very important nutrient medium for marine organisms, including various types of fish in the open sea. Mangrove forests are also good nesting places for birds. An Integrated Conservation and Development (ICD) planning for the area is under consideration. Chwaka Bay is also proposed to be declared a Ramsar site, and in addition, Chwaka Bay is on Tanzania’s tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to the region’s unique natural and cultural resources.
Zanzibar’s wildlife attractions also include dolphins, not to mention deep sea fishing for tuna, marlin and sharks.
Previously, recalcitrant slaves were brought to Chang Island, but now the territory of the former prison is occupied by centennial turtles.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the Jozani Chwaka Bay Park area includes “the largest remaining stand of near-natural forest in Zanzibar”. The forest rests on the coral limestone of the marine terrace. Habitats within the park and its associated protected areas are very diverse, ranging from ground forest to riparian forest to mangrove and salt marsh grasslands along the coast. The types of vegetation found in the park were once common throughout Zanzibar. Among the endangered animals living in the park are the Zanzibar red colobus (endemic to Zanzibar monkey species), the Zanzibar duiker and the Zanzibar serval geneta.
Since Zanzibar is located in the tropics, the weather is warm almost all year round.
Dry Season: The hottest month of the dry season is February with its maximum average daily temperature of 29°C. The southern hemisphere winter season is only slightly cooler here, with a very comfortable average water temperature of 21°C in August.
Rainy Season: There are two periods of rainy season, the rainiest period on the island is from March to May, and there are also rainy days in October and November.
FEATURES OF ZANZIBAR
- Diving and snorkeling on tropical reefs
- Historic Stone Town with its narrow streets
- Artfully crafted carved wooden doors
- Spices – 75% of the world’s cloves are grown here
- Traditional Arabic dhows
Zanzibar is part of the Republic of Tanzania but has its own separate government and multi-party democracy.
The semi-autonomy of Zanzibar includes two islands – Unguja (or Zanzibar) and Pemba – which are located 35 km from the coast of Tanzania and 6 degrees south of the equator.
You can get to the islands by air or by sea from Dar es Salaam.
This is a malaria zone.