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Herping on our East Africa Diving Holidays

Not Diving but your partner or friends are?

Come along anyway, and relax by the beach or go herping instead!

East Africa is home to a unique and diverse array of reptiles and amphibians including a variety of snakes, lizards, worm lizards, crocodiles, tortoises & turtles and frogs.  There are over 400 species of reptiles in East Africa and over 275 of these occur in Tanzania; many of these are endemic.  Amphibian species in Tanzania number around 130.   These numbers are likely to rise as the herpetofauna in the region is still poorly known.

Over 400 reptile species in Region

Chameleons... Dragons... Geckos... Cobras... Vipers... Pythons... and more!

East Africa is a land of vast, dramatic landscapes and spectacular wildlife.  The landscapes range topographically from the low-lying coastal regions up to 5825m at the peak of the highest mountain in Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro.  Habitats within these landscapes range from lush forests, woodlands, bush & grasses, to semi-arid country & deserts to freshwater lakes & rivers, soda lakes, coastal beaches & reefs.  Reptiles occur throughout these diverse landscapes, apart from above the snow line.

Ethical Herping on Safari
Please be assured that we are ethical in our search for and enjoyment of reptiles;

  • We replace any objects moved.
  • We do not destroy micro-habitats to get at hiding animals.
  • We do not crowd or stress animals for our own enjoyment.

Herping in East Africa is exciting - especially as much of it is still unchartered and there is still a real possibility of finding new species!  A few of the species you are likely to encounter on our Zanzibar Safaris are listed below.

Coastal Forests

The coastal region of Tanzania is ecologically rich, highly diverse and home to a diverse range of reptiles.  The coast includes thick forests, thickets, mangroves, river inlets, saltpans, tidal mudflats and offshore islands. The region is thus of major importance for many animals.  During our 3 days at Ras Kutani, some of the reptiles you should see are listed on the right.

  • Ecologically Rich & Highly Diverse

  • Forests & Mangroves

  • River Inlets, Saltpans, Tidal Mudflats

  • Offshore Islands

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Black-lined Plated Skink Gerrhosaurus nigrolineatus
Dull-green Day Gecko Phelsuma dubia
Gaboon Viper Bitis gabonica
Giant one-horned Chameleon Chamaeleo melleri
Semi-Ornate Snake Meizodon semiornatus
Striped Skink Mabuya striata
Tree gecko Hemidactylus modestus
Tropical Girdled Lizard Cordylus tropidosternum
Tropical House Gecko Hemidactylus mabouia
Variable Skink Mabuya varia
Yellow-bellied Hinged Terrapin Pelusios castanoides
Yellow-headed dwarf gecko Lygodactylus luteopicturatus


Zanzibar Island is famous throughout the world for its spices and for its outstanding coral reefs.  Less well-known is  the range of terrestrial fauna on the island - reptile species include 2 endemic species.  The indigenous Jozani Forest Reserve is the last remaining forest and is home to a number of reptile species.  During our 4 days in Zanzibar, you should see some of the species of reptiles listed on the right.

  • Spice & Coral Island

  • Indigenous Forests

  • 2 Endemic reptile

Brook's Gecko Hemidactylus brooki
Brown House Snake Lampropholis fuliginosus
Green Turtle Chelodina mydas
Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricata
Nile Monitor Varanus niloticus
Spotted Bush Snake Philothamnus semivariegatus
Tree gecko Hemidactylus modestus
Yellow-headed Dwarf Gecko Lygodactylus luteopicturatus luteopicturatus
Unusual or  endemic* to region:
Usambara Green-snake* Philothamnus macrops
Zanzibar Blind-Snake* Rhinotyphlops pallidus


Pemba lies to the north of Zanzibar Island and about 50km off the mainland.  Despite its proximity to Zanzibar, it is rarely visited by tourists and remains relatively remote.  The largest remaining patch of forest, Ngezi forest, has a lush jungle-like canopy with thick cover on the forest floor and is home to five endemic reptile species.

The nearby Misali island is covered in forest and our secluded beach retreat is surrounded by mangrove forests.  During our 6 days on Pemba island, we will explore these habitats and should see some of the reptile species listed on the right.

  • Lush jungle-like canopy

  • 5 endemic reptile species

  • Marine turtle nesting beaches

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Brook's Gecko Hemidactylus brooki
Brown House Snake Lampropholis fuliginosus
Central African Rock Python Python sebae
Green Turtle Chelodina mydas
Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricata
Mozambique Spitting Cobra Naja mossambia
Tree gecko Hemidactylus modestus
Yellow-bellied Hinged Terrapin Pelusios castanoides
Unusual or  endemic* to Pemba :
Pemba Day Gecko* Phelsuma abbotti
Pemba Island Writhing-skink* Lygosoma pembanum
Pemba Marsh Snake* Natriciteres pembana
Pemba Wolf Snake* Lycophidion Pembanum
Pemba Worm Snake* Leptotyphlops pembae

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