I had been looking into going to Mahale already but I thought it best to wait until the children could come along, the minimum age to actually go see the chimps is 12. But when the opportunity came up to go when the children were on holiday, it was an offer I could not refuse. And it only made me more determined to go back with the kids later.
Of course the main reason and attraction for visiting Mahale are the chimps. Tanzania has chimps in Mahale National Park, Gombe Stream Park and Rubondo Island. Gombe Stream Park seems to struggle with an unstable environment and population; and the chimps at Rubondo Island are introduced (bred in Germany) so it is said that the most authentic experience would be in Mahale.
Mahale mountains borders Lake Tanganyika. Lake Tanganyika is the longest lake in the world and the deepest lake in Tanzania. Mahale is the green and jungle-like part of Tanzania (it is not all Savannah here :-)). I did my homework and read what I could find on my destination, but nothing prepared me for the beauty..
I stayed at Nomad’s camp Greystoke and even though everyone knows the excellent reputation of Nomad and I was not surprised they did deliver – it was still impressive to receive such exquisite service in such a remote place. The staff had such love and passion for their own home, the food was excellent, the beach resort truly felt like the garden of Eden and Greystoke is clearly a guardian of paradise.
And a special mention should go to ‘Big Bird’, probably the most documented pelican on the internet (read it here). The story goes he got lost during a storm and ended up at the Mahale beach. They taught him how to fly (which was successful, see here) and now they are teaching him how to fish. Not surprisingly, he thought it much more convenient to grab our catch of the day when we went fishing. Big Bird is the puppy of the camp, and I am sure my kids would love him too.
– A plane from Arusha to the bush airstrip of Mahale and a boat into the National Park –
– The beautiful beach and camp –
Activities.. walking, beach, swimming, wildllife, fishing.. Big Bird!
– And of course… the chimps.. –