Ecotourism hand in hand with forest management
Mchakama is a village located 65 km from Kilwa Masoko town, it takes about 90 minutes by car to reach the village. The village also can be reached through motorcycle and bicycle from Mavuji junction. The majority of the village members are smallholder farmers practicing conventional farming and shifting agriculture, while few are also small-scale charcoal producers, pastoralists and forest loggers. That said these activities insert pressure on the forest as it is the primary source of livelihood.
Among the work that is being supported by WWF Tanzania and MCDI is through capacity building for cultural aspects of tourism and tour guiding activities as the efforts towards promoting extensive forest restoration, sustainable usage as well as nature tourism in the village. As a result, 6 community members (4 men and 2 women) trained in tour guide skills and mapping 4 tourist attractions and hiking trails of 35km long. Furthermore United State Forest Service (USFS) supported preparation of eco-tourism documentary from 3 tourists attraction in Mchakama village, 1 in Kiwawa village and Kilwa Kisiwani in Kilwa Masoko for them aim of broadening tourism package within the District.
The Forest doesn’t only have to involve trees and animals as a source of income and conservation but they are even various resources that can take part. In Mchakama VLFR various unique landforms such as stalactites and stalagmites, natural historic caves, vertical standing rocks, various species for birds and mammals act as a source of income to the community through eco-tourism and complementary to conservation. Among the activities that can undertake within the Forest Reserve includes bird watching, sightseeing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and identifying different hardwood valuable tree species while enjoying the natural scenic beauty of Mchakama village. However, towards the promotion of the attraction sites, ten domestic tourists from Kilwa Masoko visited Namilonji rock and caves, one of the sites in Mchakama VLFR. This was life-changing for most of them since they have never dreamed or experienced if Mchakama village could have such beautiful areas, this resulted in some of the planning for the second-round visit to the village. Below is some of their feedback about the trip.
“This is the most beautiful environment in Kilwa ever; I didn’t even know before we have such nice place for relaxation here in Kilwa District, I will bring my family and my friends from Dar-es-salaam during the holiday to enjoy the beauty of Mchakama.” Yusuph Moshy; TRA Officer at Kilwa Masoko.
“My dream place to visit again and again” Reginald Mpaluka from Kilwa Masoko.