Greystoke Mahale is nestled on a white sand beach in Lake Tanganyika. Towering behind the lodge are the Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest known populations of wild Chimpanzees left on our planet.
Tue, Dec 22, 2015
It's been an incredible year for Cam and I living in Mahale, the mountains hold a certain kind of magic that makes this place truly unique. The natural beauty is breathtaking and not a minute goes by without us discovering something new and wonderous that makes us feel very lucky to call this home. Living with Chimpanzees, monkeys, warthogs, leopards and a variety of other shy forest creatures is incredibly humbling but some of the best parts of living in Greystoke are the people we share it with.
Our Mahale Family have become part of us and they are the ones that create a lot of the magic here in Greystoke. We have all been very busy over the year working on behalf of the Nomad Trust and the generous donors to support Katumbi, our local lake shore village, where the majority of our team come from.
Here are some of the stories and highlights of our achievements this year….!
Guest's generous donations arrive on the shores of Lake Tanganyika at Katumbi Village
PACK FOR A PURPOSE -
Pack For A Purpose is a wonderfully simple and incredibly effective initiative that allows a traveller to locate their destination and camp online, find projects that are linked to the lodges/hotels they are staying at and select the most needed items on their list that they can pack in their luggage and bring directly to the source. Over the year we have had hundreds of kg's of items brought to the camp through this charity. It has supported our small clinic with much needed and otherwise unobtainable supplies. The school children also benefit from having sports equipment, stationary, text books and other gifts brought along and the guests enjoy visiting the village to donate these directly into the hands of the children!
To find out how you can help please click on this link: http://www.packforapurpose.org/
Hassan and Butati handing out much needed babies clothes to Nurse Elizabeth who looks after a delivers all the babies in the village!
Each year a donor will sponsor our nursery children to have porridge in the mornings - something that keeps them going throughout the day!
A big THANK YOU to Safari Tracker Adventure in Arusha http://www.safaritrackersadventure.com/ who donated for 2015 and great news that we have a wonderful donation for 2016 from Andrew and Giulia Lodder who raised the funds as part of their wedding gift from all their guests!
As part of Governemnt policy all children must have uniform to attend school, most families can only afford one set which can get a lot of use! With lots of broken zips we had a kind donation to allow us to hire a sewing "fundi" to stitch 100's of uniforms! We are in the process of raising more funds to buy the material to make shirts, skirts and shorts for all the children.
PENCILS FOR HOPE -
Last year we had two lovely guests from Germany, Fabio and Barbara, who brought 50kg of medical supplies through the 'Pack-For-A-Purpose' initiative. They then spent a life-changing day with the children in Katumbi handing out all their gifts, playing football, taking polaroid photos for the children to keep and generally having a great time meeting our local friendly residents. Since their first visit they were so inspired that they have been working very hard back in Germany over the year setting up their own charity in order to raise funds to help develop the school and the clinic. Together with Nomad Trust we have bulit a close relationship and have made some great achievements already and have many more plans in the pipeline, to find out more please see their website: http://pencils-for-hope.org/en/projekte/
The school children receiving t-shirts and stationary from Pencils For Hope
Mwiga Mambo one of our star guides at Greystoke who works as part of our Nomad Trust Committee always gets the children laughing and inspired!
He's great at football too....! Here he's taking on the local handmade football!
Pencils For Hope also donated sports equipment for the school; footballs, frisbees and skipping ropes which were a huge hit with the girls!
One of the first of their larger projects was to raise funds to build 50 desks for the school. This was very much in need as most of the children had to learn whilst sitting on a dirt floor. A great success we have just finished the first 50 desks and the children now have a better learning environment! Here's to the next 50!
The head Teacher receiving the 50 new desks with our Trust Team!
Football is BIG in Africa, and Katumbi has one of the most picturesque pitches I've ever seen!
Under the the palms and huge mango trees the village community spirit is kept alive with the thrill of a good match - lots of our guests have donated much loved footballs and kit. Our Greystoke team love to spend a rare afternoon letting off steam with a good game! They often win too!
THANK YOU Fabio and Barbara for all your compassion and hard work, we look forward to working with you next year!
ALL ABOUT THE LIGHT -
David Middleton a recent guest, runs a wonderful foundation "All About The Light" where he provides inflatable solar powered "Luci Lights" to people all over the world who have no electricity. He kindly brought with him 12 lights which he delivered to some of our well deserving residents who now benefit from having a cost free solution to cooking or studying at night rather than buying kerosene for their lanterns.
This lady now has an easier solution to looking after her 2 week old baby!
Nurse Elizabeth often has to deliver babies at night on call so now she has a portable hanging lantern to make life a little easier!
To find out more visit: http://www.allaboutthelight.org/
Hassan Rashidi - An expert chimpanzee tracker, boat driver and all round superstar!!!
Hassan works tirelessly to help his community and is the one on the ground who facilitates and oversees all of our projects out of his own will to see his community thrive. Without his good heart and the rest of our team none of these projects would be possible!
One of our major projects that Hassan finally helped realise at the beginning of this year - the building of a teacher's house to give a comfortable home to the teacher's who come from other areas. It has a prime view overlooking the forest at the top of the hill behind the school!
Butati, another of our star guides and former Katumbi resident gives a talk to the community to explain our work!
We value our relationship with our local communities and know that it's important to help them to understand why were are here and what we do, with the success of our annual football match with the schools we hosted the winning team for a day of education and a visit to the chimps! The children were blown away - let's hope we can move a step closer to helping them protect their wonderful enviroment as well as giving something back!
It's been an incredible year - THANK YOU to all who have helped make life on the lake for those in Katumbi a little bit easier!
Looking forward to what 2016 will bring!
Fri, Dec 18, 2015
The quintessential afternoon activity whilst on Safari is the 'Siesta'. The hot African sun at midday bakes the earth sending temperatures soaring, so this really means no other option tham to find a cool spot with a light breeze and get some shut-eye. Here on Lake Tanganyika our cousins have a very similar approach to facing the heat or just a full belly.
A good option, especially now that the rains have come and the ground is wet, would be to build a nest. All Chimps do this every evening but during the day for a Siesta it is not a priority. But a few folded branches in the right fashion makes for a comfy bed worth protecting.
Of course not everyone builds the perfect nest and some extra support is needed to keep oneself up in the trees.
Once the nest is perfectly made, pulling funny faces at your friends on the wet ground is a must, just to show off a little bit.
But the ground is suitably comfortable for most, Michio here shows how to make the most of nothing.
A mere yawn is enough to ward off anyone thinking you are vulnerable having a nap on the floor, Alofu shows off his fearsome teeth, I couldn't helping yawning myself.
Orion too doesn't mind a quick nap on the floor, maybe he finds it more comfy on his belly.
You might expect the Alpha Male, Primus, to have a nest prepared for him by one of his cronies, but no he doesn't mind the ground...as long as he has a few others tending to his other needs, see below.
Making the most out of nothing, a tree makes a very good head rest, keeping eyes to the tree tops to plan the next fruit raid or colobus hunt.
A meagre branch will do the trick if the floor is too wet and building a nest is too much to ask.
Sometimes that perfect fork in the tree just begs for a nap, even if only for a few minutes of shut-eye.
Of course it is never as easy for mothers, little ones know nothing of the importance of a nap, much the same as our children play time is all the time and mom is always kept up to make sure the little ones don't wonder too far. Puffy has definitely got her hands full with that cheeky little face.
Fri, Nov 27, 2015
Each Chimpanzee has its own clear cut personality just as we do. If we start delving into each one, a few of them come to mind of having somewhat of a cheeky demeanor.
The King of cheek is without a doubt Christmas. Born on Christmas Day, his birthday is around the corner and he generally knows, acting out by slapping people as he runs passed. He is however a teenage male and not as strong as he thinks, so quite often his shenanigans land him in trouble with the higher ranking males who put him in check.
Of course not all female chimps are elegant in their ways, take our friend Quilt for instance, the older daughter of Qanato who seems to drive her mother mad always running off her young sister to practice her own mothering skills. In the above photo Quilt with her little sister hanging out in a tree while mum is busy below trying to get her youngest daughter back.
Another audacious fella is Omari, the five year old son of Omo. He really is quite bold, if he thinks you are a bit close to him, he's not shy to show it, running around slapping his belly, screaming at the top of his lungs and baring all teeth. We think when he gets bigger he might be a bit scarier.
The big cheek is our Alpha Male, Primus. He has no problem throwing his weight around with a brassy smile. Here he and Alofu pant-hoot returning a call from some far away friends.
Babies mean trouble, their confident curiosity and frisky nature tends to have their mums running around all over the place. One particular little babe, that we have dubbed Peanut, the young son of Puffy, a little cavalier showing no fear of us always putting on a good show playing in the vines and trees.
When two little ones start to play it can often turn into a kicking, punching and biting match as things slowly escalate. Here Peanut, shows his force kicking a much older baby while swinging through the trees.
Tue, Sep 29, 2015
The Holy-grail of forest birds must be, most definitely in my eyes, the Narina Trogon. As with most forest birds they are incredibly elusive, this entertains some mysteries to such birds. Over the past few very dry weeks in Mahale, the thinning forest has allowed for some good sightings in and around camp.
A French Explorer and Ornithologist by the name Francois Le Vaillant gave this Trogon its name after spending many years traveling around South Africa from the late 1700's. From where he derived the name 'Narina' is somewhat of a mystery to historians. During his time in South Africa, he made use of a very skilled Khoikhoi tracker by the name of Klaas, they became very close friends over the years. In Khoikhoi the word for flower is 'Narina' and maybe Klaas gave such a description to influence the name.
What is known for sure is that Le Vaillant named the Klaas's Cuckoo, another bird that frequents Greystoke, after his Khoikhoi friend. But for the Trogon there is speculation of a Khoikhoi mistress of Le Vaillant, her name being 'Narina'. Whether he named this bird after her is not well recorded, given the timeframe, but it is a belief of many. This would make the Klaas's Cuckoo and Narina Trogon the only two birds named after indigenous people of Africa.
This dazzling bird has evaded my lens for many years. Its habit of showing its green back to any threat camouflages it in the canopy. It will often perch without moving for extended periods, patiently waiting for a passing insect to feed on.
Finally one lucky morning I managed to snap the above photograph, it may not portray the crimson front but illustrates how it hides itself using its canopy colouration. It is an image I have longed to capture and once again I owe a dream come true to magical Mahale.
Fri, Sep 25, 2015
The common term for going out trekking in the jungle looking for Chimpanzee's is 'chimping' but recently our Pseudospondias Microcarpa (a big fruit tree) between our kitchen and office has started fruiting. So with the chimps in camp this evolves to 'Champing'.
The tree in question has very dense foliage and the fruit is mostly on the upper crown, which makes it tough to view the chimps, mostly giving one a stiff neck from tilting the head back and scouring the tree top.
But don't worry about your neck too much, as if you are lucky we will hear the chimps making their pant hoot racket on their way, giving us a chance to ready ourselves. Here Darwin makes his entrance into camp with a quick glance in at the kitchen before climbing into the upper branches.
After feeding on the small oblong black fruits for some time, the chimps will descend. Hopefully after a good feeding they take some time for a bit of grooming and relaxing around the base of the tree in and around camp. Emory and Bonobo take a minute to check themselves outside our guides rooming.
Sometimes the whole family comes in for a bit of dinner before retreating back into the jungle for a night in the tree top nests. Quanato with her daughter Quilt, who holds her yet named baby sister.
Once the activities are complete its time to move on to find some shade to rest in or find a suitable spot to spend the night. Teddy making his way along our service paths on his way out.
A speedy descent from our big tree makes it tough to get a clear image of our relatives on their way down, but occasionally someone will stop and pose before hitting the ground to carry on with their day.
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