The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

Yoga Tourism spirits around Amani Nature Forest

Meditation in the Wild? A new type of forest tourism seems to be spiritually kicking off in Northern Tanzania.

The meditation oriented form of spiritual excursion is already attracting a variety of special visitors from all over the world who are now flocking into the Amani Nature Forest Reserve to connect with their inner selves.

Located in Muheza District of Tanga Region, the lush green and thick Amani Forest Reserve is part of the Usambara Mountains range.

Gabriel Ponera is a tour guide at Amani Nature Forest Reserve, who affirms that Yoga tourism is starting to thrive in the largest forested block on wilderness mapped within the East Usambara Mountains.

So far a total of five dedicated Yoga locations have been cleared in the forest for serious mediation.

“People want to directly connect with nature while meditating and doing Yoga,” explained Mkongewa, adding that this is the latest and most popular type of tourism emerging in Northern Tanzania but which is only found in Muheza.

In fact, Yoga tourism done in such pristine natural surroundings is only practiced in Tanzania, at the Amani Nature Forest.

The reserve is the only place on the African continent offering this type of spiritual excursion on the cheap.

Yoga happens to be a Sanskrit word which can be translated as ‘Yoke’ or meaning ‘union.’ For the case of Amani forest, this should be a union with nature.

As far as practitioners are concerned, ‘Yoke,’ means drawing together, to bind together; or to unite.

The related mediation or exercise is meant to yoke or create a union of the body, mind, soul, and the universal consciousness.

Tourists visiting Amani forest in Tanga recently discovered the spiritual value of many of its natural hotspots that have now been dedicated to serious meditation.

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” ― The Bhagavad Gita

A team of media practitioners, members of the Journalists Environment Association of Tanzania (JET) on a study trip organized under the USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili activity discovered this new type of tourism to be beneficial to both the environment and economic development in the surrounding communities.

Senior Conservator Alphonce Aldo Nyululu who is the Acting conservator in-charge for the Amani Nature Forest Reserve, reveals that the nature forest is home of most of the species of African Violet Saint-Paulia, named after Baron Walter von Saint Paulia Illaire.

Baron Illaire was the German administrator of Tanga Province during colonial days circa 1890s.

The Violet Saint-Paulia is considered to be a plant of spiritual significance with supernatural powers to heal and grant wishes to anybody who will supplicate to the pink flowery shrub, endemic to the Eastern Usambara Mountains.

“The Amani Botanical Garden, established in 1902, is one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in Africa, covering 340 hectares and containing more than 1000 species of plants taken from all over the world,” revealed Conservator Nyululu adding that the legendary garden is used for conservation, education and research.

On his part Aloyce John Mkongewa an Assistant Researcher in the precinct who also serves as tour guide at Amani, pointed out that other tourists love to swim or take natural showers at several waterfalls dotting the forest, also believing that it has some spiritual values.

Amani Nature Reserve, according to experts in biology, is essentially a center for botany and zoological diversity. The floristic composition is very diverse and there are 2012 vascular plants species per hectare.

Encompassing Amani and Nilo clusters, the natural forest cover is internationally recognized for the high number of endemism, species found nowhere else in the world.

Margaret Simon Malekela, the Assistant Conservator II says more than quarter of the thirty odd species of amphibians and reptiles in East Usambara are found nowhere else in the world. Among plants, the sub montane forests are especially rich in endemic species. 

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