Day trip to Jozani Forest, The Rock and Michamvi Beach
While our plan for Zanzibar was initially to just hang on the beach and stare at the water for the whole week, once we got there we thought we might as well see some of the island, especially after having traveled for about 36 excruciating hours to get there.
We took a look at the offer, there’s basically a limited selection of day trips that you can take from Zanzibar, and even though all of them were tempting, we decided on two: one to Stone Town – the main city of the island and Prison island – where we got to see giant turtles, and the one I’ll tell you all about today – Jozani Forest, the Rock and Michamwi beach.
Why did we choose this trip?
Because it included monkeys in the jungle, a mangrove forest, a restaurant on top of a rock coming out of the ocean and watching the sun go down into the ocean (we didn’t see the sunset from the beach we were staying at).
How to book a day trip in Zanzibar?
We booked it through our host and he took care of everything. The driver picked us up from the accommodation at the set time and then took us to all the locations. We only had a tour guide at Jozani Forest, which was included in the price of the trip (except for tips, but those weren’t mandatory). The rest of the locations didn’t require a tour guide.
Jozani National Park
The driver came to pick us up at the appointed time and after a short ride we got to our first destination: Jozani National Park, where we were greeted by our tour guide, Moana (I don’t know whether that was her real name or just a stage name 🙂 ). She was quite a character, with her khaki uniform and rubber boots paired with a beautiful electric blue hijab.
Moana explained that the tour will take about an hour and we’ll see the Colobus monkeys in the Jozani forest first, then stroll through the jungle, the final stop being the mangrove forest.
Jozani Forest and The red Colobus monkeys
Not long after entering the forest, we saw the first group of red colobus monkeys. These monkeys are typical to the archipelago of Zanzibar and, unfortunately they are now considered an endangered species.
We were told before entering the forest that we are not allowed to try to feed or touch the animals and that we should keep our distance – in the end, it is us stepping into their home so we should show a minimum of respect.
They seem to be pretty used to humans, they’re not afraid, but also not even slightly interested in us. They just did their own thing, breastfeeding their babies, grooming each other or fighting the rival group without even noticing that we were there.
They’re interesting creatures to watch – constantly on the move, jumping from tree to tree. Trying to take proper pictures of them is a pretty difficult mission and taking a picture of you AND them is close to impossible.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle…
After seeing the monkeys do all their little gimmicks, we continued our walk over to the jungle. By this point, the humidity was unbearable and I was starting to feel the life draining out of me (little did I know that was nothing compared to what I was about to experience two days later in Stone Town).
As we entered the jungle, our guide started to list out all the highly poisonous snakes and other creatures that apparently live in this jungle. I’m not sure if she was for real or just joking (she did make some sliiightly passive-aggressive jokes throughout the tour), but it sure didn’t help lift my spirit.
Between the possibility of black mambas falling down from trees and dying from the heat, all I can remember about this part was that there used to be water there and as proof, there is still dried up coral on the ground. THE END.
The mangrove forest
Once out of the jungle and having at least one of the death threats out of the way, I started to relax a bit and actually enjoyed the walk through the mangrove forest. Now that I think about it, I think it was my first time seeing actual mangroves!
We walked on a boardwalk above the tidal waters and Moana explained a lot of cool stuff I’m sure, however, I wasn’t paying attention because I was too busy taking photos and just enjoying the views.
On the road
The trip from Jozani Forest to The Rock lasted quite a bit, so we got to see more of the cold, hard reality of Zanzibar. Seeing this always gives me mixed feelings: it’s heartbreaking in a way, but then again, some of them might actually be a lot happier than many of us living in developed countries.
I think we could all learn a bit from them, a lesson of acceptance and just enjoying life with everything that’s being thrown at you, be it good or bad.
The Rock is a place famous for a restaurant built on top of a rock just off the shore of Pingwe. By the time we got there, we were starving so the first thing we did was to look for a place to eat.
There aren’t many options around and we thought the restaurant on the rock will be too crowded, so we chose Upendo, a pretty fancy hotel on the beach with a restaurant, pool, the whole shabang. The location was really nice, very instagrammable, but the food wasn’t that great – it looked awesome, but the taste was pretty meh.
It was low-tide when we got there so the view wasn’t very appealing, especially with all the algae lying around on the beach. I’m guessing it all looks a lot better when the tide is high and the beach is clean.
The sky got really dark and it even started to drizzle a bit, so we just took a few photos then headed back to the van to go to the final location.
After a pretty (ok, VERY) bumpy ride, we made it to Michamvi Beach, where we were supposed to see this magnificent sunset, with the sun slowly setting down into the ocean. Although the rain had stopped and the sun did come out of the clouds for a while, it was soon overcast again.
Michamvi is a more laid-back beach than Paje, there aren’t many accommodation options around and it’s mostly famous for the sunsets. I loved the vibe overall and I especially liked all the palm trees along the beach (I have a soft spot for palm trees).
One thing I noticed is that they were building some overwater bungalows, which, as far as I know, will be the first ones in Zanzibar. I just recently saw another picture from there and they advanced with the construction, all the bungalows have roofs, so they might be ready for June when the new season starts.
With no signs of a spectacular sunset in sight, we spent the rest of the time doing exactly what this beach invites you to do: just chilling and enjoying life!