Only accessible by a private charter flight and boat, the extraordinary and exotic Greystoke Camp (formerly Mahale Mountain Camp) lies on the remote eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika near where Stanley is reputed to have met Livingstone and pronounced 'Dr. Livingstone I presume'. Founded by Roland Purcell, who became Director of the Mountain Gorilla Project after Diane Fossey's death, its main claim to fame is the Chimpanzees which live on the Mahale mountains (8070ft) that rise dramatically behind the camp. Many of the 800 or so free-living chimps here are habituated, having been studied for over 25 years by Japanese researchers, and as a result they are much easier to locate and observe for longer periods.
Arduous treks into the forested mountain and high temperatures during the day means the climbers have to be pretty fit. On the climb you may encounter terrific bird life, giant forest hogs, timid bushbucks, elephant, buffalo, leopard, genet cats and several other species of primate.
A full day can be spent with the chimpanzees and the excellent guides will reveal the intimate secrets of one of man's closet relatives. The guides know the chimp families and their members profoundly and will fill your days with wonderful stories of a particular individual. Visitors can approach the chimps to within a few feet as they feed, groom and wrestle across the forest floor. The encounter is truly fascinating.
There is however more to Mahale Mountain Camp than the chimps - Lake Tanganyika, the world's longest lake (468 miles) and the second deepest (approx. 4500ft), shimmers in front of the camp. You may swim in its inviting crystal clear waters or go fishing (the lake has a huge stock of over 350 species of fish, half of them unique to the lake) or sailing on the 46-foot traditional Arab dhow, The Isabella.
The camp ambience is incredibly chic. Within its six simple tents facing the lake, sumptuous furnishings abound; pillows are stuffed with real feathers, linen is of the finest kind and beds are hand-made from local wood. Each tent has a forest bathroom open to the heavens but many guests simply abandon all inhibitions and prefer to bathe in the clear moonlit waters of Lake Tanganyika.
Fresh sushi and cocktails are served on the shores of the lake at sunset, picnics are organized on the boat or shores of the lake and delicious dinners are taken in the beautiful ottoman-style dining tent lit with glowing lanterns.
The unique Mahale Mountain Camp in the middle of Africa is full of style, exclusivity and fun. Just picture this; negligible number of tourists, untouched wilderness, glamour in the wild, glorious sunsets over Lake Tanganyika, exotic sundowners on the beach, sailing or fishing in traditional dhows, chimpanzee galore - all pure bliss in a far away world!
- Chimpanzee treks
- Bird watching
- Longest natural swimming pool in the world - lake Tanganyika!
- Dhow trips on the lake
- 6 beautifully decorated tents (12 visitors) with private bathroom facilities
- Camp is dismantled twice a year during the rainy season (mid-October to mid-December and mid-March to May).
About Chimpanzees in Tanzania
Chimps are found in secondary regrowth forests, open woodlands, bamboo forests, swamp forests, and even open savanna with bands of riverine forest and forest savanna mosaic. Chimpanzees are omnivores, and eat not only fruits, nuts, seeds, blossoms, leaves, etc., but many kinds of insects and also medium-sized mammals, which they hunt. Unlike gorillas and orangutans who are reliant on a specific type of habitat for their specialized diets, chimps can live in a large variety of habitat. One major difference between Gombe (also in Tanzania) and Mahale chimps is that Gombe chimps rely heavily on palm nuts, but Mahale chimps eat no part of the palm tree. Gombe chimps also often probe for termites while Mahale chimps (M-group) probe for tree-ants, but not for termites.
Chimpanzee males weigh between 90 and 115 pounds and measure about 4 feet high when standing upright. Females are slightly lighter and smaller. Chimpanzees in the wild seldom live longer than 50 years. Chimpanzees' arms are longer than their legs, enabling them to reach out to fruits growing on thinner branches. When they travel they usually walk on the ground, and are known as "knuckle walkers".
Chimpanzees live in social groups called communities which can consist of between 30 to 60 individuals. Each community forms its own little groups with interchangeable memberships. Contact is maintained between members of the scattered groups by means of the distance call: the pant hoot. Chimpanzees generally communicate with a wide range of calls, postures and gestures.
The dominant male protects his territory vigorously from other males, often resulting in savage fights. Females from other territories are welcome though. Females are not sexually attractive to the older males until age 10 or 11. Baby chimps are dependent on their mothers for up to 7 years.