NOMAD GREYSTOKE MAHALE - MAHALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Greystoke Mahale sits on a pristine, white sandy beach overlooking the turquoise water of Lake Tanganyika, with the forested slopes of the 8000 ft Mahale Mountains rising behind. The camp is stunningly located in a remote spot with mountains rising from the beach behind the camp and the wide lake directly in front. But the real highlight of visiting Greystoke Mahale are the chimpanzees which live wild and free in the dense rainforest canopies just a boat ride away.
With just six wood and thatch bandas set on the edge of the forest line at the base of the mountains you have lots to do in and around camp. your days will start eating breakfast whilst waiting to hear news of the chimpanzees. Evenings end with sundowners on the rocks of the headland where drinks are served around the lamp-lit bar whilst the mountains, rising behind camp, disappear into the darkness.
Greystoke Mahale is set on a broad, sandy beach bordering Lake Tanganyike in the Mahale Mountains National Park in western Tanzania.
The six rooms at Greystoke are entirely in keeping with the setting and has a light footprint. Built of thatch and salvaged dhow wood, each of the open-fronted rooms is tucked into the treeline and almost invisible to the passing fishermen in their small canoes. The rooms all have verandas and an upstairs chill-out lounge with views across the white sand to the vastness of Lake Tanganyika.
The rooms are open fronted with great canvas drapes which can be closed in the event of a storm. The twin or double beds nestle beneath a canopied net. A dressing area leads on to an ensuite bathroom with running water and a boiler that is lit on request to preserve energy, and a flush loo. The rich foliage that gives the camp such character can be enjoyed while you are showering in privacy.
Looking for the families of chimpanzies is the main attraction here - the hiking can be extremely challenging or easy and short depending on where the chimps are on each day. The camp shares the mountains and lake with so many animals - but it's the chimps that take front stage. it's hard not to compare their daily lives, their movements, feeding, squabbling, foraging and grooming, with our own. Time spent with them is time away from everything else that is ordinary, and the guides have watched, over the years, as families have grown, alpha males have come and gone, bonds and friendships have been created and then broken.
After tracking them for an hour or two or maybe more, only aware of the sounds they are making ahead of you, you find them; suddenly they are everywhere. You sit quietly on the forest floor and for the next hour you become wrapped up in watching them go about their daily life. You become aware of the subtleties of different relationships, through gesture, sound and expression.
Other activities include hiking the forest paths looking for birds and butterflies as well as the other shy mammals who live here. Swim in ice-cold pools up in the mountain waterfalls, take a kayak out for a dawn paddle towards the middle of the lake; drink your morning coffee there and enjoy the sunrise coming up over the mountains.
Go for sundowners on the old wooden dhow, lazily following the shoreline and stopping to fish along the way, or just relax on the warm sands of the beach with a drink in hand.
NOMAD GREYSTOKE MAHALE IS CLOSED FROM THE 17TH MARCH THROUGH TO THE END OF MAY EVERY YEAR
THE CAMP IS FAMILY FRIENDLY AND WELCOMES CHILDREN 12 YEARS AND OLDER - THE CAMP IS IN A VERY REMOTE AREA AND IS UNSUITABLE FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN