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people around the bonfire at Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania

Greystoke Mahale, Mahale Mountains National Park

Chimpanzees and barefoot luxury in Tanzania's Wild West

The amazing Mahale Mountains dramatically rise behind Greystoke Mahale's 6 huts. In the foreground, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, you will find a beautiful beach with soft sand and crystal clear water. On clear days, you can see the Congo mountains on the opposite side of the lake. This is what dreams are made of.

Welcome to one of the world's most beautiful and wild safari experiences. The chimpanzees are, of course, the big draw in Mahale, but the camp and the park offer much more than a unique meeting with these amazing animals.

It is one of the wildest and most spectacular safari experiences on the African continent.

Why we love Greystoke Mahale

  • Perhaps the most amazing safari, nature, and lodge experiences in Africa.
  • The meeting with chimpanzees is simply astonishing.
  • The ambiance: Bonfire,  feet in the sand, cold drinks, and fresh sashimi.
  • Amazing location surrounded by Lake Tanganyika and the Mahale mountains.
  • It is a long journey to get here, but this is an experience in its own right.
  • Combined with nearby Chada Katavi it is perhaps the most unique safari in Africa.

You start with an approx. 4 hours flight across Tanzania with a small propeller plane. And then about 90 min with a classic dhow boat on the Tanganyika Lake. It is a long trip, but this is part of the experience and journey.

When the boat docks at the shore in front of the lodge, you are several hundred kilometers from the nearest road. You are almost as far from the highway as you can possibly get. And then arrive at this heaven of a lodge. You cannot compare it to anything else on the planet.

It is luxurious in a Robinson Crusoe-kind-of-way, where less is more, and the great experience lies in the location, the atmosphere, the staff, and all the small details.

two people looking at the view over the lake at Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania

Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania

One of the world's most iconic safari lodges

When Irish adventurer Roland Purcell was on an expedition down Lake Tanganyika in 1988, he discovered a place of paradisiacal beauty. A beautiful stretch of beach at the foot of jungle-clad mountains. A place where large chimpanzee families lived in the treetops and where the seawater was crystal clear.

This is where he founded a lodge, which today is Greystoke Mahale. Built from worn-out dhows (traditional sailing ships) wood it is not beautifully rustic and authentic. 

Few things have changed since Roland went ashore, but the quality of the lodge has been upgraded. The style and design are still original, and the eco-friendly approach continued, but the amazing location of Greystoke Mahale is also reflected in the amazingness of the surroundings.

chimpanzee around Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania

Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania

Get up and close to the chimpanzees

The vegetation and landscape of the Mahale Mountains are a great contrast to East Africa's other national parks. Instead of open savannah, it is a dense, tropical jungle. The primates rule here with the chimpanzee as the absolute king.

You meet the majestic chimpanzees on the daily trek into the park. Depending on the season and the location of the groups, the hike and visit can last anywhere from 2 to 7 hours. Good physics is therefore required.

It is normally during the dry season, from May to October, that the chimpanzees are closest to the lodge and lake. Vice versa they are normally further up in the mountains in the winter season from November to March.

There is no guarantee of seeing them, but if you are here for 3 days the chance is close to 100%. The guides and the Japanese researchers from the nearby research station have a fairly good understanding of their behavior and movement patterns. 

Once you have spotted them, you have an hour to be close to them. This is as long as the authorities allow, and it is strictly complied with. You must wear a medical mask to protect the chimpanzees from diseases.

kayak and boat on lake tanganiyka at Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania

Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania

Dancing hippos, virgin waterfalls and fresh sashimi

Greystoke Mahale is much more than meeting the chimpanzees. First and foremost, the location and the camp cannot be compared to anything else on the African continent.

Lake Tanganyika is worth the trip in itself. It is the world's longest and second-largest freshwater lake, wedged between Tanzania and Conge, before reaching Zambia 660 km to the south.

The water is so clear that it is hard to describe. It is tempting to take a swim from the shore, but the lake is home to hippos and crocodiles so you need to go by boat to deeper waters. From here you can jump in for a refreshing swim.

In the late afternoon, a boat trip with a traditional dhow is simply magical. You might be lucky to spot hippos gently dancing across the river bed. And when the water gets deeper, you can jump in with masks and fins to experience the lake's colorful fish.

Back at the camp, end your day with drinks around the bonfire and sashimi, ceviche, and other delicacies for dinner. It is hard to beat this experience.

Are you ready to explore the wild side of Tanzania? Go on the ultimate safari adventure in Tazania's Wild West.