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Magical Mahale

What can we say about Greystoke, Mahale? The camp is wonderful with spacious comfortable bandas well spaced out along the back of the beach with the communal area centrally placed. The setting is magical - beautiful white sand on the shores of the crystal clear Lake Tanganyika with wonderful sunsets reflected in the waters each evening. As the dhow, which had brought us from the airstrip to the camp, pulled onto the beach we were greeted by staff who implored us to quickly disembark as there were 2 chimpanzees in the camp - which watched, awestruck, as the chimps played in the trees by the camp kitchen and then followed them up the small hill behind the camp where we stood watching them groom each other. We could not have asked for a better start to our stay at the camp. The days that followed were fantastic with marvellous sightings of chimps quite low down and relatively close to the camp on the first day, the second day the chimps had taken themselves off into the mountains so we left the younger guests to make that trek!! On our final day there were a few chimps low down so Peter and I (the geriatrics!!) opted to trek them whilst the other guests had quite a gruelling hike back into the mountains to find the main group. Our little trek turned into a delightful nature walk seeing not only chimps but other wildlife too. Our guide Butati told us about the vegetation and plant life and spotted things that we would have just not seen like the green spotted tree snake - very interesting. Each afternoon after a siesta we all went out in the dhow - the plan was a gentle trip on the water but once the fishing lines came out some how there became a great rivalry between the men and the women as to who could catch the most, the biggest and the smallest fish! I caught the first one - a yellow belly - and for that I had to kiss the fish. Later , Sarah, another guest caught a huge fork tail perch. Over the days we were there the women caught the most and the biggest fish but Peter won the prize for thesmallest! Each evening we had sushi, to accompany our pre dinner drinks, made from some of the yellow belly caught that day, on the first day we also enjoyed some of the fork tail perch with our dinner. Any remaining big fish went to the staff or TANAPA . The small fish were the most important catch - they were for Big Boy the habituated pelican at the camp who is unable to fish for himself. On our last afternoon dhow trip apart from the fishing we also went up a river seeing some interesting bird life as well as many crocodile. We had also had the opportunity to swim in the lake. All the staff at Greystoke are fantastic. Our guides Mwega and Butati were marvellous. Their knowledge of the chimps (knowing each one by name and recognising their voices) was amazing and their general knowledge about the environment etc second to none. Added to this they were a fantastic double act and should they ever retire from guiding should go on stage!! Pity they are Arsenal supporters!! (I jest!) A very big thank you to Kerry who managed to keep smiling and keep every thing running smoothly despite her damaged ankle whilst her husband, Geoff (camp manager) and Cameron ( about to take over from Geoff) both took to their beds with flu. Thanks also for our birthday cakes.