Tanzanian mainland is full of great places for game drive… but also the islands are home for a number of animal species – definitely not common ones!
While visiting the Zanzibar Archipelago, besides the enjoyable beach life this location is famous for, it is possible to spot many creatures that you won’t see in many other places of the World. We give you the hint for seven “island game drives”. Take note, and choose yours!
Red Colobus & Zanzibar Bushbaby
(Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park – Unguja)
Jozani Chwaka Bay is the only national park in Zanzibar, and the only place where you can see the Red Colobus Monkey. It is home for other monkey species as well, such as Sykes Monkey and the cute bushbabies. Here you will also see the nocturnal tree hyrax, which is said to be the first hyrax species that has acclimatized to the forest.
Bottlenose & Humpback Dolphins
(Menai Bay Conservation Area – Unguja)
Menai Bay is the Zanzibar’s largest marine protected area, with over 470 square kilometres of tropical marine environment including coral reefs, tropical fish, sea grasses, and mangroves. Here you can find bottlenose and humpback dolphins, well known because of their ability to interact with the humans. A participatory project with community of 19 villages made a huge difference in the conservation of this species. Kizimkazi village, on the southern coast of Zanzibar, has become a major tourist attraction because of this reason.
(Mnarani Turtle Sanctuary – Unguja)
Sea turtle nestling sites are quite common along the coast of Zanzibar and Tanzania, and you will find several spots where it is possible to see baby turtles running to the sea. An amazing project for the conservation of sea turtles is located in Nungwi: the Mnarani Turtle Sanctuary. A natural pool just a few meters away from the sea, originally set up to rehabilitate and study turtles that had been caught in fishing nets, is at present an aquarium that hosts also many baby turtles, protecting them before they take their way to the Ocean.
(All the Archipelago)
Diving, snorkeling or even just walking along the beach during low tide, you will probably see some red-knobbed starfish – starfish par excellence. You can hold them for a while, if you want… just remember to be respectful, and leave them back in their habitat after your marine photo session!
(Zanzibar Butterflies Center – Unguja)
This is a unique collaboration between Zanzibaris and Europeans, in promoting a sustainable use of natural resources and providing extra income for local farmers. Here Butterflies are raised, exhibited and exported, and the center is today a popular tourist attraction. Revenue generated by tourist admissions provides funds for local projects in the form of alternative livelihoods, conservation and poverty alleviation.
Pemba Flying Fox
(Kidike Root Site & Ngezi Forest Reserve – Pemba)
In the wide nature areas of Pemba, which are covered by a dense tropical forest, you can find the endangered Pemba Flying Fox, considered the largest bat species in the World: it has a wingspan of 1.6 metres and a fox-like face, tawny fur, orange underparts and black ears, nose and wings. Almost extinct in recent years, its population has now grown to an estimate of 20,000 individuals, thanks to an effective protection programme.
In Mafia, between October and March, it is possible to swim with the peaceful Whale Sharks. They are the largest fish in the sea, measuring up to 20m. The whale sharks have no teeth, and because of this reason they are absolutely harmless. The majority of the time they are very shy, although on occasion they can be inquisitive making your encounter much more spectacular.