“Primate paradise: fascinating chimpanzee tracking at one of the most stunning beach camps in Africa”
Greystoke Mahale has 6 open-fronted wooden bandas (huts), set back a little into the forest at the edge of the beach. Each has comfortable beds with feather pillows and linen sheets, a dressing room and an upstairs 'chill-out deck' made out of recycled dhow timber, with sofa, kerosene lanterns and views over the woods to the lakeside.
Your bathroom, reached via a short boardwalk, has a flush toilet and powerful shower. Warthogs and civet cats sometimes emerge from the forest to snuffle and squeak around outside the tents - or drink from the foot bath!
Eating (and drinking!) is a big part of the Greystoke experience. Many of the ingredients are gathered from the area around the camp - wild ginger for cooling post-trek cocktails, for instance, or giant mussels harvested from the lake floor to be grilled for lunch.
Breakfast - fish cakes, a fry-up, or scrambled eggs - is cooked alfresco on a charcoal grill. Delicious flapjack ‘power bars’ are prepared for the trek into forest, with fizzy wild ginger beer served on the beach when you get back.
Lunch is a spread of hot and cold dishes buffet; when we visited, we had several different kinds of curry served with naan bread, poppadums, rice and bhajis.
Dinner is taken either around a long table on the beach, dramatically lit by lamps and flaming torches, or at a private waterside table if you're feeling romantic. Dishes are truly imaginative and superbly presented - whole roasted fish wrapped in banana leaves, or thick creamy soup served in a hollowed-out pumpkin. For a truly out-of-this-world taste sensation, try lounging on cushions on the deck of the camp’s boat as the sun sets, and eating freshly caught lake-fish sashimi, loaded with red-hot Japanese horseradish and chased down with shots of purest Russian vodka!
Greystoke's raison d'être is chimping - trekking into the forest in search of the 50 chimpanzees living in this neck of the woods. They’ve been followed for forty years by a team of Japanese researchers, and so are quite habituated to humans approaching. Guides know the name and life history of each chimp, and explain the intricate political structures of the group as you sit watching them groom, feed, or play with their babies in the patches of sunlight that dapple the forest floor.
You can track the chimps in the morning and/or the evening, walking into the woods behind the camp in groups of 6. Sightings are likely but not guaranteed, as their position in the forest changes every day - sometimes they are just minutes from the beach, and sometimes a few kilometres’ hard walking into the hills. Park rules mean that you can only spend one hour with the chimps each day to avoid disturbing their social behaviour too much. Walking can be strenuous, with homo sapiens scrambling over rocks as their primate cousins swing effortlessly through the trees overhead.
You may also see bushbuck, leopard, countless birds and butterflies. Other things to do include:
Children aged 8-12 are allowed at the camp, but not permitted on the chimp tracking expeditions, which rather defeats the point of coming. Each banda can fit an extra bed, or children can share a banda (enquire about pricing in this instance). Kids aged 12+ are treated as adults.
Extra Beds Available