Travel marketing brochures are full of verbiage about enticing places that have a ‘barefoot luxury’ appeal: glorious open beaches, drop-dead gorgeous views in every direction, pretty white sand, almost nobody else around, gourmet meals served al fresco, and a staff intent on pampering every visitor.
Very few of those places live up to the hype. Paradise always seems to remain a day’s sailing away. Not so at Greystoke Mahale: it has all the barefoot luxury attributes and more: lake water so clean and pure you can drink it, plus extraordinarily good fishing and likely the best chimpanzee viewing of any place in Africa.
Greystoke Mahale is tucked into a narrow sandy strip along the edge of Lake Tanganyika, below the densely forested Mahale Mountains with the mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo visible about 30 miles across the lake. The mountain and the lake – most people would be hard pressed to pick a favorite or to nominate which of the two should take pride of place. They are both equally impressive and both essential to the Greystoke experience.
Mahale is best known as a sanctuary and research area for a group of about 60 habituated chimpanzees, plus several hundred more wild ones which inhabit the national park. Having trekked for chimpanzees before in two different areas of Uganda I can say that the Mahale experience was by far the best I have experienced. The chimps are very well habituated and hence very tolerant of humans being close to them. The leafy ever-green forest habitat is superb and makes for a perfect backdrop. If you’ve never seen chimps before and want to do so, or if they are your favorite animals, a visit to the Mahale Mountains National Park should definitely be on your short list.
Even if there were no chimpanzees here it would be a more than worthwhile destination. Amazing views, the super deep-water swimming opportunities, fishing, kayaking, birding, hiking – the area has it all and more. We spent quite a bit of time boating (on a motorized kayak) but it is also possible to just relax and take it easy. The beach at Greystoke rivals many a coastal resort area, with the prettiest lake imaginable spilling out onto a white sandy beach.
The lodge itself and the 6 wood and thatch bandas set on the edge of the forest line at the base of the mountains, are like nothing else you’ve ever seen: romantic, private and completely in line with the feeling that there’s nobody else around. Each banda has an en-suite bathroom – accessible by a short boardwalk – with hot and cold running water, strong showers and flush toilets. Plus a dressing room and upstairs chill-out deck.
It is relatively easy to get to the Mahale Mountains – and we would recommend combining it with a few days at Katavi National Park. E-mail or call us at 800 513-5222 for more details and special offers.
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