Ngezi Forest Reserve


In far northeastern Pemba, dense and wonderfully lush Ngezi is one of the last remaining areas of indigenous forest that once covered much of the island, and as close to rainforest that you'll get anywhere on Zanzibar. Protected by a 1476-hectare reserve, the forest is a true double canopy, complete with vines providing swings for raucous vervet monkeys. The entrance gate and visitor centre is 5km west of Konde, on the main dirt road to the Kigomasha Peninsula.

From the visitor centre, two nature trails tunnel through the forest, and off-trail walks are allowed. All visits must be done with a naturalist guide, some of whom speak English. Most visitors follow the Joshi Trail (Tsh16,000 per person), which takes about an hour and is good for spotting birds, red colobus monkeys and Pemba flying foxes (especially in the early morning and late afternoon). The ruins of the sawmill that stood here until the 1960s can still be seen.

A longer option is the Taufiki Trail (Tsh20,000), which heads north through the forest to reach Vumawimbi Beach (after three to four hours); from here you can retrace your steps, or walk back through the villages bordering the reserve, or arrange a lift in a local pick-up.

Also available are specific birdwatching and bat-watching walks, plus night walks (all Tsh20,000) to see bushbabies and for keen birdwatchers to spot the endemic Pemba scops owl (Otus pembaensis).

Vehicles pass through Ngezi Forest on the way to the beach hotels on the Kigomasha Peninsula. There's no transit fee unless you stop in the forest. To reach the visitor centre without your own wheels, you could walk from Konde or get an unofficial taxi or boda-boda (motorbike taxi) for around Tsh5000. Some hotels can provide tours or transfers, or you can rent a bike and cycle here.