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Chimpanzee Trekking Safari in Mahale

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In the 1,613 square kilometers that the Mahale Mountains cover, amazingly there are still no roads. All you'll find are forest paths and tracks that have been made by animals over the years. This and the fact that the only practical way of reaching camp is by boat, add to the sense of total seclusion here.

Flying in over the northern end of the mountains, you'll see nothing for many, many miles apart from small villages and local fishermen in dhows dotted along the lakeshore. 

As you head down the lake towards your beautiful Bohemian styled camp, the villages thin out and the forest takes over.  It's not long before it seems that civilization has been left far behind!

The tropical rainforest that covers the slopes of the mountains that rear up behind and to the east of the camp, is home to the largest group of free-living chimpanzees in the world, over fifty-strong. Each chimp has been named, its family ties identified and its individual behaviour studied.

They can be approached across the forest floor, often within a yard or so as they feed, play, wrestle and groom. The chimpanzee is our closest relative and it’s an extraordinary and privileged sight to behold – being so close for an hour a day and observing the familiar rituals known to man. For the next hour it's as if you can scarcely find time to breathe, so wrapped up are you in watching them go about their daily life.

You become aware of the subtleties of different relationships, through gesture, sound and expression.  One dictating the pace, another courting favour, yet another perhaps plotting a coup. There is humour too as the young chimps fall about the floor and play remarkably human like games. Days are spent exploring the forests and seeing these magnificent primates. 

Back on the lakeshore, palm-nut vultures, fish eagles and goliath herons are common; this is a really relaxing place and you can just sit or fish or watch the birdlife and time gently flitter by.

Fish abound in the lake and many of them are unique to Lake Tanganyika - this makes for interesting snorkelling and there is kayaking too. Also a perfect combination with Katavi as the two are only  an hour’s flying time apart – or indeed visited on its own – but whatever you do – don’t miss this out! 

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