Chawia Forest in Mwatate, Taita Taveta county has been identified by the Tourism Finance Corporation as a viable site for tourism development opportunities in the county.
Tourism Finance Corporation Senior Research Officer Anderson Jumaa says they will catalogue the investment opportunities they have identified and showcase the sites at an International Investment Exhibition Forum to be held in Nairobi on 2nd to 4th October to attract investors.
Jumaa made the remarks when he toured the forest accompanied by Taita Taveta county Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui, acting Tourism chief officer Rhoda Mwashighadi and community members. “We are considering Lake Challa, Jipe, Wesu Rock and Chawia Forest which are good facilities for development of Eco lodges,” said Jumaa.
Residents have identified the highest peak of Chawia, Mwangoji, as a good site to set up cottages. The hill offers awesome views of the landscape, Lake Jipe, Tsavo West and Usambara Mountains in Tanzania. The deputy governor proposed that the hills can be used for paragliding while the lower zones could be utilised to launch hot air balloons.
The local community is involved in conservation activities of the 86 hectare Chawia forest. Members of Furaha Women group have planted 14,000 indigenous trees in the forest in the last two years.
“We have Prunus Africana Mngima, Mwava, Msu, Msurughache, Hornybill tree, Mrangi famously known as Bamboo and Mkuyu. We use the barks of Mkungo, Mshigha and Mwashokonyi to make dyes which we use when weaving our baskets,” said Gladys Mwawuasi, a member of the group.
According to the Acting Chief Officer Tourism, Trade and Cooperative Rhoda Mwashighadi, cataloguing the sites will be crucial in convincing investors to invest in the county. “ Taita Taveta is beautiful, we also welcome local tourists to explore this county” said Mwashigadi.