Mahale Mountains, Tanzania
Most visitors come to Greystoke Mahale to see wild chimpanzees, among other prolific wildlife in these densely forested mountains, but the camp itself is utterly memorable. Romantically set in isolation on a sandy beach overlooking Lake Tanganyika with the mist-clad slopes of the 8,000-foot Mahale Mountains rising behind, Greystoke Mahale was designed to complement its natural surroundings with impeccable grace. Six wood and thatch bandas are tucked discreetly back along the forest line with views of the beach and lake beyond. They were built almost entirely from sustainable materials sourced on Lake Tanganyika, with wood reclaimed from wrecked or retired dhows bought from villages along the lakeshore. Old fishermen’s canoes serve as ladders, and thatch from palm trees gathered outside the national park is utilized for the roofs. Each private banda has an en suite bathroom – accessible via a short boardwalk – with hot and cold running water, strong showers and flush toilets, plus a dressing room and upper-level deck for private relaxation. The main lounge/mess is the focal point of the camp and the only structure on the beach. From here, guests can look out over the lake to the mountains of the Congo in the misty distance. In addition to wildilfe safaris, activities include swimming, kayaking, forest walks to waterfalls, fishing, and sailing in a classic dhow along the shoreline. Evenings arrive with sundowners served around the lantern-lit bar on the rocky headland at the end of the beach, as the mountains behind camp fade into the descending dusk.