Greystoke Mahale

The Original Mahale Camp

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.

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Thu, Sep 13, 2018


To the chimpanzees, grooming not only has an hygenic aspect, it is also important to form and maintain alliances.  

They use their hands, fingers, mouths and teeth during grooming, to find small objects in the hairs of the body. Chimpanzees have a very good eyesight and sensitive fingers which allow them to part hairs and pick small objects like ticks or other parasites from the body surface.

Grooming is more frequently observed among adult males and often goes on for a long time. Male chimpanzees at Mahale tend to groom each other reciprocally. Also, they often focus on the face, possibly trying to find signs of loyalty or infidelity in the face of the grommee.

Teddy and Darwin have been observed to form a strong alliance lately. Primus, the current Alpha Male for sure will be concerned. Teddy still is very popular within the group and it seems like he patiently is planing is move to become the next Alpha Male. If he will be able to convince Darwin, who is a very strong male himself and has been amongst the higher rank males for a long time, Teddy has found himself a strong ally in the power struggle against Primus.

Source: Mahale Chimpanzees 50 Years of Research, based on the work of the Japanese Researchers in Mahale and published in 2015.

Thu, Aug 30, 2018


Yesterday, the big group came down the mountains, for the first time this season. The ‘big group’ means the majority of the M-Group including the Alpha Male. As told in former blogs, some of the higher rank males are giving Primus a hard time, challenging him in his position as the Alpha Male. Now, some of those males had split from the group and Primus probably was concerned and felt the pressure to go after them in order to keep control of what was going on. So he took everybody down the mountain to look for the renegades.. and found them not too far from camp. And boy, they pulled of quite a show! Mwiga, our senior guide estimated around 40 chimps altogether, although was hard to estimate as there was a lot of movement. Males were grooming each other, forming new alliances or keeping up old ones, and showing the famous Mahale Hand Clasp, a grooming behaviour only found amongst the Mahale chimpanzees.

The orphans were grouping around Bonobo, whose calm company they clearly enjoy, knowing that staying close to him they are safe. Then the higher rank males showing off in front of each other: Christmas clearly does not occupy one of the Top positions in the group anymore as he was even submissive to Emory when this one was showing off in front of him...  Christmas is not in good health at the moment and therefore needs to be careful with whom he starts messing around. And to be honest, besides his diminutive stature Emory does look quite impressive.

Figaro, one of the orphans in the group and brother to the former Alpha male Pimu, showed again that he has a strong personality and for sure will hear a lot about him in the future. Linda, one of the older females in the group, clearly has a crush on him and followed him wherever he went. Figaro saw his chance and invited Linda up a tree and for an intimate encounter.

And then there was Azam. Despite his young age of 14 he recently was seen starting showing off in front of females, trying to make his way up the pecking order. This time however, he decided to show of in front of Bonobo. Bonobo, annoyed by the disrespectful behaviour, puffed up his fur but then moved to the side, probably thinking that this was enough to put the youngster back in place. Azam however didn’t get the message and continued showing off, unfortunately he decided to do so in front of Puffy, Primus’ sister. Puffy, intimidated by his behaviour, started to scream. Primus, alerted hearing his sister, ran towards were she was and starting to chase Azam. Azam ran away but he didn’t get far, Bonobo reached out and nailed him down. Primus reached the two and everybody was holding their breath as Azam now was in serious trouble. Primus started beating him, when suddenly attracted by the tumult, all the other males came. Primus let go as he had to be aware of the others, a moment of not being concentrated might bring him in trouble himself as the other males probably are just waiting for their chance to push him off his throne. Lucky for Azam, he got off lightly.

And where was Teddy during all this time? Smart as he is, he kept his distance and clearly avoided to be involved in any fight that might weaken him or his position as the number two. He just keeps working on his strength and popularity within the group, having found a strong alienate in Darwin. He is patient, knowing that one day, his time will come to take over and become the new Alpha Male of the M-Group, especially now that Primus seems to be under a lot of pressure and clearly has difficulty to deal with it. 

Sun, Jul 1, 2018


Wow, where do I begin? It is still difficult to process everything that has happened yesterday. It all started as usual, we met our guests for breakfast, enjoying each others company, the beautiful morning light on the lake, the fresh air and a tasty breakfast. It seemed to be a very relaxed morning as once finished breakfast, there still were no news on the chimps. At ten o'clock, as the lake was just beautiful and calm, everybody was happy to go for a swim. Once the boat left with our guests, we went back to our office to catch up with some work... just as every other day. After a few minutes, the boat came back and Matius, one of our guides, was just telling us to get ready as the trackers had found a giant pangolin! We literally dropped everything, went running back to our house, jumped into our hiking boots, grabbed the camera and went rushing back after our guests who already were on their way into the forest. We caught up with them just before reaching our trackers... and suddenly there it was, the giant pangolin in the middle of the path just ahead of us. We couldn't believe our eyes!!

What a special sighting, on the way back to camp it was hard to talk about anything else. To cool down a bit, just before lunch our guests decided to go for that swim they had to postpone in the morning. Back in camp, hungry from all the excitement, we were just sitting down and starting to eat, when the guides came with news that the trackers found some chimps. Barely swallowed the last bite, off they went again. 

After two hours guests were back, happy to have seen Christmas and Christina. They came down the mountain together with our guests as to show them the way back to camp. The group left Christmas and Christina a few minutes away from camp as the time was up. Everybody was happy about the experience... and suddenly the news were "chimps in camp!". Apparently Christmas and Christina were not finished yet spending time with us, so they came into camp. We asked ourselves: what is happening today? First the pangolin, then chimps, and then chimps in camp?! 

Could it get any better after that? It did... the guests went out for another swim and saw an entire family of hippos, walking right next to the boat in the crystal clear water.

And to end this extraordinary day, it was the perfect night to sit in our Big Bird Bar and in a peaceful and romantic atmosphere to reflect on everything that happened during the day. Also, later we had a little birthday celebration as it was Sean's birthday, one of our truly lucky guests. We are be sure that he will never forget this birthday! What can we say, it was Mahale at its best!

Tue, Jun 26, 2018


... WATOTO BOMBA EEEEEH BOMBA, WAGENI BOMBA EEEEH BOMBA! With this song we ended another great day with pupils from Katumbi here in camp. Sponsored by our Nomad Trust, we were able to welcome 30 pupils. After an early breakfast we left for a forest walk, our guides sharing their immense knowledge about plants, indigenous trees, birds and other animals that crossed our way. The children were eager to learn and understand more about the environment.

And they surprised us with their knowledge too. They knew quite a few plants and their healing power, being taught by their grandparents. What surprised us most is they knew the answer why within the National Park there is a lot more rain than in the village just a few kilometers up north the lake. In fact this is because of the large number of indigenous trees in the park, creating a micro climate that due to deforestation cannot be found outside the park bounderies. Impressive to hear it from a 9 year old, isn't it? On our way we crossed path with Juliette, the last warthog on this side of the mountains. She wasn't bothered by our company at all and the kids were happy to offer her some company.

Back in camp we showed the kids around and our team was proud to explain them about their jobs… especially those whose sons and daughters were amongst the pupils. The kids had a lot of questions and were excited to try everything out.

It became really exciting when the kayaks were discovered. In an instant they were out in the water, circling between our boats in front of the camp, starting races… and believe me these guys know how to paddle! 

It was a very exciting day and in the end, everybody was tired but everyone in camp and I am sure the kids in the village as well went to sleep with a smile and some great memories. MAHALE BOMBA EEEEH BOMBA!

Fri, Jun 1, 2018


It has been a few weeks now that we are back in camp. What a treat to wake up again to the soft sound of the waves and the red-tailed monkeys in the trees, to see the golden light of the morning sun breaking over the top of the mountains and to breath the fresh and clear air of the Mahale Mountains. After the last rains in May everything is lush and green and the weather could not be more perfect.

A perfect setting to get our camp ready for the new season. The entire team has been working together in order to have everything perfectly prepared for our guests. And the result shows… a few new touches in the rooms, the wood oiled and shiny, snow white bedsheets drying in the warm breeze, new recipes added to the menu. We are ready!

And then the first visitors showed. Bonobo and Carter came by for lunch and a leisurely walk on the beach. They looked pleased with everything they saw, or was it just the yummy ripe fruits in the bushes along the beach?

Oh Greystoke Mahale, you are just as beautiful and magical as ever! We cannot wait to share this wonderful place with our guests for this new season and hopefully (definitely!) create some unforgettable memories together. Karibu sana Mahale! 


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