Track Chimps & Other Primates in the Mahale Mountains on Lake Tanganyika
Day 1: Fly to Lake Tanganyika / Boat Transfer to Greystoke Mahale
Enjoy a scenic one-hour flight to far-western Tanzania, landing on an airstrip at the edge of Lake Tanganyika. Here you will board a dhow
, a traditional East African boat, which will convey you to Greystoke Mahale. The arrival at Greystoke has been described as among the most dramatic anywhere in Africa. The camp enjoys an isolated location on a pristine beach, tucked along the forest edge with the Mahale Mountains rising behind. Harmonizing with the natural environs, each open-fronted banda
has a splendid view of the lake, with an upper balcony for private relaxation.
Greystoke is your portal into Mahale Mountains National Park, one of Africa’s most remote and beautiful wildlife sanctuaries wholly inaccessible by road. Famous as the home of some of the world’s last remaining wild chimpanzees, the park’s terrain includes isolated beaches and lush mountain peaks on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. This afternoon, relax in these serene surroundings, anticipating the delightful primate encounters to come.
Days 2–4: Chimpanzee Tracking in the Mahale Mountains
The sun rises late behind the mountains to the east, and you'll enjoy a leisurely breakfast while the scouts head into the forest first to locate the chimpanzees. From August to December the chimps are active on the lower slopes nearer to camp, while they move to higher elevations from January to July, following the fruits. Daily activities revolve around the chimps' location on the mountain, and sightings are possible year-round.
As we hike into the forest to find them, you'll hear about the social behavior of the chimps from your expert guides. Greystoke's guides and scouts have spent much time in these forests, and their passion and knowledge are evident. A few of Mahale's significant population of wild chimpanzees have been habituated to human presence, and these are the individuals we seek. Once we reach them, we sit quietly in their natural environment, observing the subtleties of their relationships through gesture, sound
and expression as they care for their young, court favor, plot coups and play remarkably human-like games. And while the chimps command our attention, we may see other wildlife, too: the park is home to eight other primate species including red colobus monkeys, plus hippo, bushbuck, bush pig, warthog, leopard, brush-tailed porcupine, and a profusion of butterflies and birds—look for crowned eagle, scaly francolin, crested guinea fowl and Ross's turaco among them.
We return to camp for lunch each day, followed by afternoon open for a multitude of activities, or simply relaxing by the lake. Options include forest hikes (perhaps with a dip in a mountain waterfall?), swimming, kayaking, fishing, sailing and exploring Lake Tanganyika on a traditional dhow. As the sun sinks low across the lake, sip sundowners in the bar on the rocks at the end of the beach, then retreat to the thatched dining tent on the sand, where dinners are a highlight of your stay.
Day 5: Fly to Dar es Salaam / Depart
Board the dhow for the 90-minute return voyage to the airstrip, then fly to Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s largest city is also its commercial capital and East Africa’s most important port. Founded as a fishing village in 1862 by a sultan from Zanzibar, Dar today reflects a succession of Arab, German, British and Indian influences coloring its native African heritage, evidenced in its historic buildings and multicultural flavor. Relax in a day room at our hotel before transferring to the airport for homeward flights after dinner this evening.