Journeys » Mahale, Tanzania (Journeys) » Mahale, Tanzania - 2017

MAHALE, TANZANIA - WHERE YOU LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND

By now a friend, photographer Greg du Toit tipped me off about this Jungle trip. He knew I loved jungles. Celebrating a big 0 birthday and I felt I deserved a treat. And what a treat it was!

A storm had pushed the chimps well off the beaten track.  The trip was about meeting the neighbors, so if we wanted to shake hands with them we had to go and chase them. 

Climbed up a ridge, rolled down a valley, pulled up another ridge, jumped across a river, crawling under bushes, rolling over fallen trees, all for 10 km up 10 km down in 8 hrs. The staff was wonderful, would have never made it without them. The trackers opened a trail with their machete and the guides carried our equipment.

Because of the climb we had to leave our heavy 400mm behind. The 300 had to do. On the way back the trail was so treacherously slippery hat I sat on my bum and sleighed it all the way, I wasn’t gonna miss my big 0 birthday!

On the way back we followed a Cheetah that happened to go down the track as well, the trackers revived us with biscuits, water and led the way with torches.

Don’t worry that was a very unusual event. It has now  become our favorite party-piece

C4 PHOTO SAFARI organized a 5-day jungle stay in South West of Tanzania in a tiny place on the shores of the Tanganyika Lake called Mahale. Chief Photographer GREG DU TOIT.

Tanganyika Lake is the second deepest in the world and the longest in the world. It holds 17% of the world's fresh water so I knew I wouldn’t go thirsty. 

Greystoke Camp is on a  tiny sandy cove at the foot of the Mahale Mountains Park. 

Dr. Livingstone spent a few years on those very shores. Lucky Devil! And it is where Stanley found him! On that beach, under the straw hut, it all felt like a Robinson Crosue adventure! 

The safari was about meeting some of the neighbors: some of Africa's last remaining 800 wild chimpanzees.

The trails are very good and the vegetation dense, as you climb insects disappear and water streams appear. Visitors are only allowed to meet a small group of them under strict supervision.

The staff knows them by name and will tell you all about their social behavior. Ever so similar to ours.....Every chimp has a name and the newborns only get named after their 3rd birthday. 

At the camp, it feels like a big family!  An idyllic place. No pollution, no noise, no intruders. A secret hide-out for your drinks at sunset!  and only two flights a week. Heaven!

WHERE TO STAY

FLIGHTS

  • AMSTERDAM, KILIMANJARO, KLM
  • ARUSHA Bush Flights

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

During World War II the Germans had a warship in the lake on the Congo side. The British, who at the time were on the Tanzanian side of the lake, decided they had to have one too, but as they could access the lake by land only they dismantled the warship and carried it piece by piece through mountains and jungle, all the way to Lake Tanganyika where the  ship was  re-assembled. That ship, sunk at the end of the war by the British themselves and later re-floated, is now a passenger boat!

As for Dr. Livingstone, he was so highly regarded that the indigenous he had worked with wanted his body to be brought back to England. They carried his body hidden in a sling through countries that would not allow dead bodies to cross their land. When the body arrived at its final destination in England his identity was confirmed thanks to claw marks on a scapula inflicted by a lion.  

Mahale is known for the long-term ecological research studies thoroughly documented by the Mahale Chimpanzee Project in Tanzania directed by Toshisada Nishida from 1965 until 2011. The project continues to yield new and fascinating findings of our closest neighbor species thanks to the amazing work and knowledge of the staff at the Camp. 

MY TIPS

  • In the Lake, there are  some 250 species  of fish to choose from if sashimi is what you like  
  • Dipping in the 25 degrees warm water is restricted.
  • Two species of crocodiles and a bunch of hippos might not like your company.
  • Forget midnight dipping in the nip!
  • Be prepared for a long wait in Kilimanjaro Airport. No Air Condition, No seats, long queue backing out on the tarmacadam, pushed from one till to the next. A 20 dollar note might help... 
  • Keep everything in zipped up bags, climate very humid.
  • Wear insect repellent clothing, good shoes, bring medications. 
  • Bring crisp US$ bank notes for tipping. Also, check issue dates not accepted by the country.
  • Travel light, flights to the bush are very strict about weight. 
  • Soft Luggage Bags on small planes - no frames.
  • Check measurements of bags
  • Some companies have a supply of soft canvas bags at reasonable prices
  • Some companies have facilities to store heavy luggage
  • Most Agency book a spare seat for the photography equipment.
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