Chimpanzee Trekking in the Remotest Mountains of Tanzania

Duration: 5 days

Highlights: Mahale Mountains National Park

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Arusha

Arrive in Arusha. After clearing customs and immigration formalities, you are met by our representative and transferred to Legendary Lodge.

Legendary Lodge sits within a working coffee farm, its tropical gardens and handsomely maintained lawns quite unperturbed by the bustle and busyness of nearby Arusha town. Each cottage has a view of the meticulously maintained gardens with Mount Meru towering in the background. Jacaranda and frangipani trees pepper the grounds inside this hidden oasis.
The cottages all bear the Kiswahili names of different antelope, and combine African craft décor with old-style colonial. The cottages and Old Farm House, where you take your meals, exude a cozy, friendly vibe.

The country club, a ten-minute golf cart ride away, gives access to a swimming pool, squash and tennis courts, gym, sport fields and a sauna. To recover from jet lag or wind down after a long safari, the lodge provides therapeutic spa treatments.

Overnight: Legendary Lodge

Meal Plan:

Day 2 - Fly to Mahale Mountains National Park

Fly to Mahale Mountains National park by private charter.

In addition to being one of the best places in the world for up-close encounters with chimpanzees, Mahale Mountains National Park, nestled on the Lake Tanganyikan shoreline in western Tanzania, is absolutely stunning. Forested mountains cascade down to the lake shore, the mist-covered peak of Mount Nkungwe rises up in the background and crystal-clear waters teeming with fish lap against white sand coves. Accommodation is the rustic and stunning Greystoke Mahale.

Mahale maountains National Park is Tanzania's most remote and one of its most alluring, is first and foremost a chimpanzee sanctuary. About 1700 chimpanzees live within its 1,613 square kilometer area, but the focal point for visitors is the 60-strong Mimikere, or 'M' group, which has been the subject of research for more than four decades. While the M group chimps are well habituated, spotting human’s closest relatives is almost always a challenge.

Overnight: Greystoke Mahale

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 3 - Chimpanzee Trekking

Time spent in the company of the Mahale chimps is unlike game viewing anywhere else. The steady climb through the quiet of the forest to find them leaves time for the mind to wander and idly contemplate the streams, waterfalls and massive forest trees. Occasionally the canopy parts and Lake Tanganyika, turquoise, cool and alluring, is visible several thousand feet below, its waters receding towards the distant shores.

And then - often quite suddenly - the chimps are there, among you. These are habituated animals, entirely oblivious to the presence of humans. They feed, play and fight sometimes within a few feet of the assembled people.

The individual characters of these animals are well known by the guides, their relationships, feuds and politics well documented. This is as much about soap opera as it is game viewing.

The length of walk can vary enormously – they are sometimes literally at the back of the camp and other days they are nowhere to be seen – but on average you should expect to walk for about 2 –3 hours on well-defined paths in the forest, with occasional scrambling down less defined animal tracks. The pace set by the trackers is steady and aimed at the slower members of the group. You need to be reasonably fit, but many people find that the steep and sometimes slippery descents are more of an issue than the actual physical exertion.

Your time with the chimps is limited to 1 hour per day and face masks must be worn to prevent the transmission of human diseases to the chimps.

Overnight: Greystoke Mahale

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 4 - Explore Lake Tanganyika

In between chimp tracking expeditions, Lake Tanganyika beckons for snorkelling, kayaking and hippo and crocodile spotting forays. The forest around the main lodge area is full of birds, with guinea fowl, hornbills, kingfishers and many more all readily seen on short walks. In the evening, the setting is magical as the sun sets over the Mountains in the distance, and tiny lights from fishing boats flicker across the lake.

Spend your time relaxing or choose from optional activities; boat cruises, swimming, kayaking or fishing.

Overnight: Greystoke Mahale

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 5 - Fly to Dar es Salaam and Depart

After breakfast, fly to Dar es Salaam and depart.

Overnight:

Meal Plan: B

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