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"Travelling with friends, instead of strangers jammed in bus, was absolutely the best of the best!” Carole Morse
A new classic, this family-friendly adventure was featured by Peter Greenberg & Lonely Planet.
Many western audiences know African chimpanzees by way of Jane Goodall and her research at Gombe National Park. However, the Mahale Mountains in Tanzania are just as good a region to spot chimps and embark on East African safaris. The Greystoke Mahale camp may just be the perfect place for travelers to begin their primate encounters.
The start of a vision
The camp began with Roland Purcell, an Irish adventurer, who was supposedly wandering along the shores of Lake Tanganyika when he came across a group of chimpanzees near a Japanese research center. According to the camp's website, Purcell decided then and there that he would set up shop on those shores. From this declaration grew Greystoke Mahale, a modest camp built of reclaimed wood on the forest line of the mountains, providing a home base for hikes into the forests, boating on the lake or swimming in nearby mountain waterfalls.
As the camp claims, it was essential to the design of the hotel to keep a low profile that didn't overshadow its surroundings. That doesn't seem too difficult given the towering peaks of the Nkungwe and Mahale Mountains.
Apart from campers and researchers, the park is supposedly home to around 1,000 chimpanzees which, according to Frommer's, are divided among more than a dozen communities in the area. It's also likely that travelers will spot other kinds of wildlife, including hundreds of species of bird, nine other kinds of primate and giant forest squirrels. The large territory means that there's plenty to explore over the course of a stay at Greystoke Mahale, and the location by the lake provides travelers a compelling place to relax day and night when not heading into the woods.
No matter the available activities and wildlife, chimps will likely remain as the major appeal of the camp. Travelers are invited to go searching for the primates in the morning and rest by the shores of the lake in the afternoon, as the sometimes hours-long search can be exhausting, if also rewarding.
Travelers interested in visiting Mahale should note that there are two main seasons. The green season is from November until March, and is characterized by blooming wildlife and clear skies punctuated by sporadic rain. These months are a good time to go looking for chimps. The dry season, meanwhile, runs from June to October, and features high temperatures and hazy skies. For people who like a cool swim on a hot day, these summer months are the time to visit.
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