Mahale Mountains, Tanzania
Greystoke Mahale enjoys a breathtaking position on a golden beach along the shores of Lake Tanganyika, sheltered by the lush forest of the Mahale Mountains. This isolated setting is home to the world's largest known population of chimpanzees.
At a Glance
Go trekking in the Mahale Mountains for Chimps
Sundowners on the dhow
Swim in the clear waters of Lake Tanganyika
Relax on the beach
Lake Tanganyika is the longest lake in the world and 4 countries surround it - Tanzania, Congo, Burundi and ZambiaLouisa Ross-Taylor
Find out about the fascinating social structure of the chimp groupLouisa Ross-Taylor
On a wide golden beach along the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, sheltered by the lush green forests of the Mahale Mountains, is the magical sanctuary of Greystoke Mahale. One group of chimpanzees is within hiking distance, and each day you can venture out into the forest to observe our closest relatives as they groom, wrestle and forage across the leafy floor. Chimp trekking time is variable, and is dependent on where the chimps are that day. Whilst they can be in the forest right behind camp, they can also be far up the mountain and a possible 5 - 7 hour trek away. The forest paths are not always steep, but the walking can be strenuous so it helps if you're fairly fit. Good sturdy but lightweight walking boots/shoes are a must.
After landing at the airstrip, guests are transferred by boat to camp and welcomed into the main bar and dining area. The accommodation has been designed with flair and is made up of six wildly exotic wooden bandas looking out across the soft sand beach, their interiors fashioned from seasoned dhow timber. Each banda is open-fronted, with dressing room, adjoining bathroom and upstairs chill-out deck. With no roads for miles and miles, everything is done by foot or by boat. And if a day’s ’chimping’ isn’t enough, you can kayak along the lake shore, snorkel, fish (on a catch and release basis), or have a private barefoot dinner on the beach. The bar on the rocks is the perfect place to enjoy endless sundowners over the lake.
By visiting Mahale, you’re also helping to support the most vulnerable members of your extended family. Habitat loss is the greatest single threat to animal extinction today, but the National Park fees levied to visitors here make sure this particular habitat remains secure - not just for over 1000 wild chimpanzees, but a vast array of other living things
The six open-fronted thatched banda cottages are set just on the forest line, looking out over the lake, with dressing rooms behind and upstairs chill-out decks. The bathrooms are set back, and accessible via a short wooden boardwalk. They all have flush loos and powerful showers, with hot and cold water available on demand.
There are 6 double banda cottages all of which overlook the beach and lake beyond. The en-suite bathroom is just a short board-walk from the room, bathrooms have hot showers and a flush toilet. All the bandas have a private 'chill-out' deck.
Greystoke Mahale is delighted to accept children of 8 years and over, but please note that only children of 12 and over can view the chimps. Meals and timings can be adapted to suit children and babysitting can also be arranged for those that need it.
The main dining area is a huge thatched building on the beach loosely modelled on traditional Tongwe architecture. It sits beneath the soaring mountains and from here you can dine on decliscious cuisine, or gaze at the stars over cocktails at the bar on the rocks.
Every morning, trackers go out early to find the chimp's, then after breakfast guests head off along the forest paths until surrounded by the calls of chimps. You can then sit quietly for 1 hour with them watching their daily life; grooming, wrestling, foraging, eating, and mothering. You can also observe leopard, bushbuck, bushpig, and a multitude of birds and butterflies.
Other activities from camp include swimming, kayaking, sundowners on a dhow sailing on Lake Tanganika and guided nature walks.
Location & Directions
Mahale Mountains, Tanzania
Kangwena Beach on the edge of Lake Tanganyika, in the Mahale Mountains National Park, western Tanzania.
When to go
Greystoke Mahale is closed from mid March to late May.
The dry season in Mahale starts in June, when the long rains have stopped, and goes through to October. At this time of year the temperatures increase and the skies are quite hazy, the lake has never been more appealing for a cooling dip. As the dry season progresses, the chimps are more usually found in the lower slopes due to their favorite fruits being found lower down.
Mahale's green season runs from November through to March and this time of year is a photographers dream; the haze often prevalent through the dry season is washed away. The forest offers varied viewing, although the forest is at its best, full of the color of wildflowers, birds and butterflies. The lake is clearest in these months with incredible views of the Congo in the distance.