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Remarkable in every respect

Greystoke Mahale is a place that’s unique and rewarding in every regard. It’s run by highly knowledgeable people who care that every single guest gets the most out of his or her stay. First off, it’s *remote*. To get there, it’s first a long flight from wherever you are to the airstrip at the village just outside Mahale National Park, then a comfortable boat trip of about 1 hour 10 minutes. From the camp, you look across Lake Tanganyika and can see the mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the far distance. 

The chimpanzee experience is fantastic. The trackers go out in the early morning and tell the guides by radio where the chimps are located. You come to breakfast ready to go when word is received. The chimps may be close by, or finding them may involve a fairly arduous trek; it’s the luck of the draw. Note that between July and September the going may be quite tough, since the chimps are typically on the other side of a mountain. If it’s muddy (the area gets quite a bit of rain), that may also make the walking difficult. But the staff does everything humanly possible to help everyone reach the chimps.

The chimps are clearly aware of human visitors but they basically ignore you, leaving you able to get a real glimpse into their behavior. You’re allowed one hour in their presence. Over the span of a few days you’ll see a panoply of behaviors, start learning (with the help of the guides) about what you’re seeing, and start getting a sense of the social structure of the group (it’s Community M that’s habituated). In the afternoon you can go kayaking, take the boat to swim in the lake, and continue by boat to look for birds and hippos at the lakeshore.

A big part of what makes the experience so great is the wonderful people at Greystoke Mahale. The manager, Mwiga Mambo, started many years ago in the kitchen, then worked his way up to tracker, guide and eventually manager. I cannot say enough about Mwiga. He bent over backwards to make sure we had the best possible time and accommodated many special requests. Kudos also to Nomad for recognizing that he had the qualities to be a great manager and investing in his advancement. Our guides, Matias and Godfrey, were big-hearted and immensely knowledgeable. I learned a lot from them and greatly enjoyed our conversations. They live and breathe their subject, and they also care about their guests. The waitstaff — “Kapopo” and the twins Hussein and Hassan — were a joy. I’ve been gone several days now and I miss them! The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the entire setup is first rate. The experience is not inexpensive, but it’s amazing. I can highly recommend it to anyone who cares about wildlife and learning about it.