Tanzania > Mahale Mountains National Park (and Gombe Stream)

Tanzania

  • Dear Rob, all the arrangements went well. The Serian camp is in an excellent location and very well managed by Roisin who made us very welcome. Our guide, James, was outstanding, one of the best ever. The game viewing exceeded our expectations. In the conservancy we saw lions (lots), cheetahs, hundreds of wildebeest and zebra, elephants, impala and many gazelles. We saw lots of hyena, packs of over 30, out and about in broad daylight, even with cubs, and clearly frightened of no one. On no occasion were there more than a couple of vans at any sighting: we thought it might be very busy but it wasn’t. Katavi, by contrast to the Mara, was a bit quieter in terms of game, although we did see 4 of the big five in one game drive. We saw more hippos in one drive than we have ever seen before and as the pools are drying the smell was just horrible! Mahale was completely different. The Greystoke camp is very well managed by the departing manager Sasha and his replacements Jeff and Kerry who made us very welcome. Our guide, Robert, was also good. Our first chimping was good. They were only about 40 mins away in the forest hills up from another camp so we went to that camp by boat and had a reasonable climb to find them as it was on the tracks all the way. On the second day two chimps decided to visit the camp just before we were about to go out into the forest. They had come to eat some mangoes which were just becoming ripe. We had about 40 mins following them through the undergrowth until they went off up a steep gradient and out of sight. As we were still entitled to a further 20 mins we set off to find some the trackers had located. This was a climb and a half. We were off the tracks for a lot of the one and a half hour climb (and it was a genuine climb up rocky slopes and through dense undergrowth) and in the end we saw only two chimps high up in a tree. We could hear that the others were not far away but they kept on moving and eventually even the trackers couldn’t go any further. It certainly demonstrated chimp sightings are not guaranteed!

    David and Pamela from Surrey travelled to the Masai Mara in Kenya and then Katavi and Mahale in western Tanzania
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Tanzania

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Mahale Mountains National Park (and Gombe Stream)

The Mahale Mountains rise to some 8000 ft above sea-level on the western edge of Tanzania along the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The predominant habitat in one of sub-tropical forest, which tumbles down the mountains to meet the lake. The forests are home to around 1000 chimpanzees – the main reason to visit – and nine other species of primate, including red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys. A family of around 60 chimpanzees have now been habituated by Japanese scientists who have researched the area for some 30 years. Walking through the forest (sometimes this can be difficult), you should get the opportunity to view these great apes as they go about their daily routine. Mahale is arguably the best place in Africa to view chimpanzees in the wild.

The lake provides an inland sea of tropical delight with over a fifth of the 1000 or so species of cyclid fish endemic. Snorkelling and swimming (though limited for safety reasons), fishing or simply relaxing on the beach are all part of a day in Mahale.

Access to the park is by boat (1 hour) from a small airstrip just outside the northern edge of the park, with scheduled air transfers from Arusha and Ruaha flying in twice a week.

Much further north on the lakeshore, north of the town of Kigoma, Gombe Stream also offers chimpanzee viewing in a similar, if a little less dramatic, setting. Gombe is reached by boat from Kigoma, which is serviced by scheduled flights. Gombe Stream has been made famous by researcher Jane Goodall, whose research centre continues today.

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