VISITING THE COASTAL FORESTS
There is increasing tourism within the coastal forests in Kenya and Tanzania. Some areas are more accessible than others due to the proximity to main towns and subsequent road conditions. Below are some suggestions of accessible places to visit which house not only pristine areas of coastal forest but endemic species known from the hotspot. Some coastal forests located on the Tanzanian islands provide the perfect chance to blend snorkelling and diving activities with primate watching in the shade of the forest and total relaxation in the tropical sun.
Useful general links:
Arabuko-Sokoke National Park
This forest is the largest existing fragment of tropical coastal forest in East Africa and is located between the towns of Kilifi and Malindi, 110km north of Mombasa. Activities such as bird watching and walking are available as well as visiting the Kipepeo project which is a community-based butterfly project at Gede National Monument, just outside of the forest. Interesting mammal species present in the forest are Elephant, the rare Aderís duiker and the endemic Golden rumped elephant shrew. Interesting bird species are the Sokoke scops-owl, Sokoke pipit and Clarkís weaver.
Link: www.kws.org or www.birdlife.org
The Kaya forests are located in Kilifi and Kwale Districts and consist of many small forest fragments. These forests are sacred to local people and can be appreciated for their cultural interest as well as the wealth of biological diversity.
Shimba Hills National Reserve
Shimba Hills National Reserve is beautiful lush coastal forest, located south of Mombasa, which can be accessed for a one day visit. Large game can be viewed, such as leopard, elephant, Maasai giraffe, zebra, lion (occasionally), warthog, monkeys and Sable antelope. Two of Kenya's most beautiful orchids can also be found here, whilst Kaya forest and the scenic Sheldrick falls can also be visited.
Accommodation is available - including camping and lodges.
Tana River National Primate Reserve
The Tana River National Primate Reserve not only has wonderful riverine forest along the meandering course of the lower Tana river but is home to two endangered primate species that are confined to the forests of the Tana River (Tana River mangabey and Tana River red colobus), each with around 1300 individuals remaining. It is accessed by the Malindi-Garissa road.
Sadaani National Park
Sadaani National Park, gazetted in 2005, is home to many large mammals, including wildebeest, zebra, eland, buffalo, elephant, giraffe, lion, and the extremely rare Roosevelt's sable antelope. Saadani is Tanzania's only protected coastal wildlife preserve with an area of 1000 sq. km and a unique blend of beach, marine areas and savanna woodlands and coastal forests with big game. It is only 130 km from Dar es Salaam by road (4.5 hours drive) and given the close distance to Zanzibar (27 km), it takes only 15 minutes by plane and a visit could be incorporated with a trip to Zanzibar and Jozani forest. Alternatively it takes 30 minutes from Dar es Salaam. An added bonus is the potential to see dolphins and a conservation project that aims to protect turtles and their eggs.
Jozani forest, Zanzibar Island
Jozani forest is already a well known and popular destination for tourists, who go to visit the charismatic Zanzibar red colobus and walk the trails of this coastal forest. Also present is the rare Aderís duiker, an endangered antelope. The Red colobus can entertain for hours with acrobatics and you are guaranteed to not only see them, but to see them close up. This forest is located on the road leading to the east of the island and can be accessed by many local tours from Stone Town or by public transport (dala dalas).
Ngezi forest, Pemba Island
Ngezi forest is a small patch of coastal forest at the north end of Pemba island. It is a must for bird lovers as it is home to four endemic bird species: the Pemba white-eye, Pemba green-pigeon, Pemba sunbird and the Pemba scops-owl. It is considered an Endemic Bird Area (EBA) by BirdLife International. It is also home to the large and charming endemic Pemba flying fox, whose silhouettes fill the dusk sky as they leave their roosts by the dozens to feed at night.
Mafia island coastal forests
Mafia island has some coastal forest remnants, which are managed by Mafia Island Marine Park. If you are visiting the island for diving and snorkelling or relaxing in the luxury lodges, it is worth visiting the forest.