Greystroke Mahale Camp
There are few places left on earth that might rightfully be called Eden, and the Mahale Mountains, on the edge of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania, is one of them. On a far-flung beach along the eastern shores of the lake, below a huge story-book tropical forest, is the tiny sanctuary of Greystoke Mahale. The water is as clear as gin, the air scented, and the living very easy indeed. The mountains soar to 8,000 feet above the clear waters of Lake Tanganyika, which at 420 miles long and 30 miles wide, is a veritable inland sea. The nearest road is almost 100kms away, and that is the most minor of tracks.The slopes of the Mahale Mountains rise behind camp, home to the world's largest known population of chimpanzees. Within hiking distance is one such group of 60. Every day you can venture out into this deep and magical forest to observe them, our closest relatives, as they groom, wrestle and forage across the leafy floor.
Your home at Greystoke is in wildly exotic wooden bandas, looking out across the soft sand beach, with interiors fashioned from old seasoned dhow timber and decorated with style and panache. The six open-fronted bandas are set just on the forest line, looking out over the lake, with dressing rooms behind and upstairs chill-out decks; they are designed with flair, generosity and passion for the most demanding of castaways.
The bathrooms are set just behind, and accessible via a short wooden boardwalk. They all have flush toilets and powerful showers, with hot and cold water available on demand. Life at Mahale is easy in this barefoot paradise. If a morning's 'chimping' sounds a bit too energetic, you can relax on your own chill-out deck, spend lazy hours staring out over the lake, and it's just a short stroll to the mess for coffee or an early evening sundowner at the bar. The spectacular two-storey mess stands proud on the beach, with its soaring prow-like wings that look out to every point of the compass, the perfect vantage points from which to sit and appreciate this incredible place.
Things to do
Hike in the stunning tropical forest that covers the slopes of the mountains. Its home to nine different species of primate, including the chimpanzee. The 'M' group live in the mountains close to camp, and have become habituated to human presence over two decades. Every morning, trackers go out early to find the chimp's whereabouts, then after breakfast you can head off along the forest paths until you're surrounded by their calls. For an hour, sit quietly with them watching their daily life; grooming, wrestling, bickering, foraging, eating, and mothering.The local tribe believes that chimpanzees were once people who retreated into the forest and just a few hours with these amazing apes shows why.You can also observe leopard, bushbuck, bushpig, other primates and a multitude of birds and butterflies which are found throughout the forested slopes of the mountains. The waters of the lake, the second deepest in the world after Russia's Lake Baikal, sparkle with over 250 species of cyclid, (tropical fish).
Who needs something else
A natural opulence seeps into Greystoke Mahale; beneath the soaring mountains you can dine on lake-fresh sashimi, gaze at the stars over cocktails at the bar on the rocks, or lie on the soft sand beach before slipping into the cool clear lake in front of camp.