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Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. (CHICOP) is an award-winning private nature reserve that was developed from 1991 for the conservation and sustainable management of uninhabited Chumbe Island off Zanzibar, one of the last pristine coral islands in the region.

The reserve includes a fully protected Coral Reef Sanctuary and Forest Reserve that harbour rare wildlife, a Visitor and Education centre, a small eco-lodge, nature walks and historical monuments. All buildings and operations are based on state-of-the-art eco-technology aiming at zero impact on the environment (rainwater catchment, photovoltaic energy and solar water heating, composting toilets, vegetative greywater filtration etc.).

The company objectives are non-commercial, while operations follow commercial principles. The overall aim of CHICOP is to create a model of financially and ecologically sustainable park management, where ecotourism supports conservation, research and comprehensive Environmental Education programs for local schools and other benefits for local people.

In 2011, Chumbe Island became the first Global Ecosphere Retreat (GER)certified Long Run Destination through the Jochen Zeitz Foundation which means that Chumbe strives for the highest standards in sustainability through the balance of conservation and commerce, whilst fostering community development and cultural stewardship.

Chumbe’s sustainable management and promotion of key ecosystem services for the region has since been recognized on many levels, including being mentioned in the UN Secretary General’s report to the General Assembly on protection of coral reefs for sustainable livelihoods and development, which states: “A noted example for PES (Payment for Ecosystem Services) within the context of coral reefs habitat is the private, non-profit Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd (CHICOP) in Tanzania (2012).


The Coral Reef Sanctuary of Chumbe Island has a size of 33 hectare and is protected as a No-Take-Area where fishing and un-authorised anchoring are prohibited.

Due to its protection the reef has remained in a pristine state and represents one of the most beautiful and diverse shallow reefs in the region. It hosts 90% of East Africa’s hard coral species, over 400 reef fish species and is an important feeding ground for hawksbill and green turtles.  The reef crest, encompassing a spectacular array of hard corals, is shallow and snorkelers can see all those wonders of the underwater world which are normally only accessible to divers.

With Chumbe being located upstream of the most important fishing grounds opposite Zanzibar's capital, Stonetown, the Coral Reef  Sanctuary also provides a protected breeding ground for fish, corals and other species which spread out to recolonise nearby overfished and degraded areas. This makes the Coral Reef Sanctuary of vital importance to both the preservation of biodiversity and the fisheries economy in the region.

The Chumbe Reef Sanctuary is also registered as a marine protected area by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (established by UNEP, WWF and IUCN) in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

The noted coral taxonomist Prof. J.E.N. Veron from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) visited the reserve in February 1997 and established that it has "one of the most spectacular 'coral gardens' to be found anywhere in the world" and that "the Park is exceptionally well managed".



Approximately 90% of Chumbe Island is covered by one of the last undisturbed tropical dry forests in Zanzibar. This forest was declared a Closed Forest Reserve in 1994 by the Government of Zanzibar, and the management was entrusted to CHICOP.

Chumbe’s Forest Reserve hosts a highly specialised plant community (over 124 identified plant species) that has developed to survive without any groundwater, as the bedrock of the island is made up of an impressive substrate of fossilized coral that is unable to store rainwater. The density of this ‘coral rag’ forest  is spectacular, as adventitious roots thrust out in all directions and epiphytic species cling to life by wrapping themselves around all available surfaces.

Not surprisingly, the forest is refuge for an abundance of bird species, crustaceans, non-poisonous snakes and lizards. Fauna also include rare and endangered species such as the Ader’s Duiker, a critically endangered mini-antelope and a large population of Coconut crabs, the largest living arthropod in the world.

Researchers have taken up to four hours to transverse the 1 km stretch through the central Forest Reserve and the crags and caves hidden underfoot, make studying this environment both challenging and consistently rewarding as new discoveries are constantly uncovered.

For our guests, nature walks are provided which allow for an insight into this otherwise virtually impenetrable habitat.

Coconut Crab

The Coconut crab (Birgus latro), also called Robber crab, is with a carapace diameter of up to 45 cm the largest land-living crab in the world. The common name derives from the crab’s ability to climb coconut trees where it easily cracks coconuts, its favourite food, with powerful claws. The crabs have evolved to live on land but begin their life in the sea, later adopting shells as houses for protection until they grow large enough to manage with just their hardened carapace alone. A curled-under abdomen gives these crabs a lobster-like appearance.

Unfortunately, Coconut crabs are hunted for their tasty meat and they are also used as fish bait, therefore, becoming locally extinct in areas close to human settlements, such as Zanzibar. Research into this species is extremely limited in the East African region and this disappearing species is unfortunately still listed as data deficient in the IUCN endangered species listing, as nobody knows how many are left! A Coconut crab population of more than 300 reported individuals is still found on Chumbe Island which has become a study base for international researchers and students.

Our trained guiding rangers are taking overnight guests regularly to the forest to look out for these fascinating, night-active creatures!

Ader’s Duiker

The Aders’ duiker (Cephalophus adersi) is one of the smallest and most distinctive of Africa’s mini-antelopes, being readily distinguished by the wide white band across the rump. As in other duikers, the body shape is adapted for easy movement through dense undergrowth, being small and stocky, with large hindquarters, an arched back, relatively short legs, and pointed hooves. Both sexes have short pointed horns.

The Ader's duiker ranks as one of the most threatened antelope species in the world, accepted to be extinct in its original range on the African mainland coastal thicket and forests of the Kenyan coast. Today, only a relict population survives on Zanzibar (Unguja) and this small population continues to decrease as a result of habitat destruction and uncontrolled hunting despite being protected by Zanzibar law.

In order to improve the future of this threatened species, CHICOP began to work with the Department of Forestry towards the establishment of an Ader’s duiker sanctuary in the Chumbe Forest Reserve in 1995. In 1998 and 2000 a small breeding population of 6 Ader’s duikers was then translocated from Mtende Region to the fully protected Forest Reserve of Chumbe Island. Monitoring procedures have since been in place and the latest survey from 2012 confirmed at least four adult individuals and one juvenile. Spotting these very shy animals is not easy but our guests are part of our observer team and each encounter is recorded!!

Roseate Terns

The Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) is similar in size to a Common tern (Sterna hirundo) but very white-looking, with long tail-streamers, a black cap and a black beak with a reddish base. In summer adults have a pinkish tinge to their underbelly which gives them their name.

In Zanzibar the Roseate tern is a rare migratory coastal seabird. The species is listed on the IUCN Red List, however, with the status ‘Least Concern’ due to an extremely large global range and an estimated global population of about 70,000 - 82,000 individuals. Roseate terns are threatened by hunting in the wintering quarters, habitat loss and extreme weather events which can cause local extinction of some colonies. In 1994, 2006 and 2012 large breeding colonies settled on Chumbe’s small islets in the south for a period of about 3 months each. These colonies have been closely monitored and detailed reports produced.

Marine Turtles

Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are the second largest of marine turtles and their name comes from the color of their fat, not their shell, as commonly believed. Their beak is sharp and finely serrated, perfectly adapted for grazing in seagrass beds and scraping algae off of hard surfaces. They are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List. Considered by many to be even more beautiful because of its colorful shell, is the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) which is found in tropical waters around the world. Named for its narrow head and sharp, bird-like beak, hawksbills can reach into cracks and crevices of coral reefs looking for food. Their diet is very specialized, feeding almost exclusively on sponges. Hawksbill turtles are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List.

Although turtle conservation and management efforts are underway in some areas of Tanzania, many questions regarding population dynamics, nesting populations, feeding and developmental habitats remain unanswered. As such the status of turtles in Tanzania remains largely unknown. Exploitation of turtles for meat and eggs is commonplace, coastal development is mostly unregulated and gillnets and prawn trawling pose a serious threat in inshore waters.

Our guests can regularly spot marine turtles feeding or resting in the Chumbe Reef Sanctuary. If you don't hassle and touch them, they may allow you to accompany them for a long time without showing signs of disturbance.

Humpback Whales

They can reach 15 meters in length, weigh up to 40 tonnes (about six times an elephant) and watching them in their natural environment, breaching and blowing is unforgettable: humpback whales!

Between 400 and 600 humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are sighted annually between July and October off Zanzibar. After their passage through east African waters, the whales move beyond the Mozambique Channel southwards, swimming over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to the cold, nutrient-rich waters of Antarctica to feed on the abundant summer stocks of krill and schooling fish.

August and September are usually busy months for humpbacks around Chumbe Island. Once they arrive, we can often hear their songs during snorkeling in the Coral Reef Sanctuary and spot them from our lighthouse. During that time all Chumbe guests are warmly welcome to join our ‘whale watching team’. In 2009 Chumbe’s conservation team joined a regional whale sighting project and has since participated by filling in a standardized recording form whenever there is a whale sighting around Chumbe Island. The sighting records are compiled and compared to previous years in order to get a better understanding of seasonal movements and abundance which then helps to generate awareness and encourage co-existence. Threats to humpbacks visiting eastern African waters include deepwater gill-nets (entanglement), dynamite fishing (keeps them away from shore), oil and gas exploration (disturbance) and tourism (harassment).




Day trips are possible to the Chumbe Island Coral Park. However, as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) we carefully manage the numbers of guests on the island at any one time. As the facilities are primarily focused towards our lodge guests, we can only take day trip bookings when we have availability in the lodge. This means we cannot take advance bookings for day trips. If you would like to book a day trip it is best to contact the Chumbe office two days before the day you would like to visit to check on availability.

RATES - SEASON 2017/2018 Per Person

Day TripUS$ 90

RATES - SEASON 2018/2019 Per Person

Day TripUS$ 90

* Children under 2 years free of charge
* Children under 12 years half price


  • Boat transport to and from the island
  • Lunch freshly cooked on the island
  • Sodas, water and snacks
  • Boat, guide and equipment for snorkelling
  • Tuition in snorkelling, if required
  • Snorkeling over one of the world`s most pristine and diverse coral reef
  • Guided walk through the forest trails and intertidal area (if low tide)
  • Shared use of one of our award winning Eco bungalows (towels provided for day use)
  • All taxes

Alcoholic drinks are available for purchase on the island.

SEASON'S DATES 2017/2018 Per Person/night

5th June 2017 – 30th Sept 2017

Single supplement US$ 130

16th Dec 2017 - 28th February 2018US$ 280

SEASON'S DATES 2018/2019 Per Person/night

5th June 2018 – 30th Sept 2018
16th Dec 2018 - 28th February 2019US$ 280

Single supplement US$ 130

SEASON'S DATES 2017/2018 Per Person/night

1st Oct 2017 – 15th Dec 2017
1st March 2018– 8th April 2018US$ 260

Single supplement US$ 100

SEASON'S DATES 2018/2019 Per Person/night

1st Oct 2018 – 15th Dec 2018
1st March 2019– 7th April 2019US$ 260

Single supplement US$ 100

* Children under 2 years free of charge
* Children under 12 years half price
* Minimum stay during 24th December to 2nd January is 3 nights
* Commission for your agency: agreed % of the above prices.


  • Boat transport to and from the island on the morning transfer
  • Accomodation in one of our 7 award winning Eco bungalows
  • Full-board meals
  • Sodas, water and snacks
  • Boat, guide and equipment for snorkelling
  • Tuition in snorkelling, if required
  • Snorkeling over one of the world`s most pristine and diverse coral reef
  • Guided walk through the forest trails and intertidal area (if low tide)
  • Guided walk to view the endangered coconut crabs in the evening
  • WIFI around the office (powered by solar)
  • All taxes 

The price is not inclusive of taxi transfers, late boat transfers, alcoholic drinks, (which are available for purchase on the island).

Boat departure time to Chumbe Island is 10:00 a.m. daily from the beach of the Mbweni Ruins Hotel (10 minutes drive south of Stonetown). Check out is at 08:00 for 09:00 boat departure. Advance booking for all reservations is required. Later boats to depart to the island can be arranged for US$ 50, and we can also collect you from the Airport, Port or town hotels for US$ 12.


Since Chumbe Island has only 7 eco-bungalows, their occupancy is very important to the success of our organization. Therefore, the following cancellation charges apply depending on the length of time before the reservation date

  • More than one week before the reservation date: 50% charge of the overall price
  • 48 hours to one week before the reservation date:75% charge of the overall price
  • Less than 48 hours before the reservation date: 100% charge of the overall price
  • Bookings from on 24th December until 2nd January: 100% charge of the overall price
  • In the unlikely event that Chumbe is unable to accommodate a confirmed booking or reservation, it may be necessary to offer an alternativeo of an equal or other standard accomodation

If at any time Chumbe needs to make changes that will affect guest stay or we need to cancel your booking, we will inform you as soon as possible, offering a suitable alternative or a refund. This does not apply to small or minor changes during guest stay, resulting from circumstances beyond our control.