Chimp trekking is a simply unforgettable experience and one that is unique to only a few places in Africa with Tanzania having had a head start on research and habituation of these incredible animals with one of the leading conservationists ever seen in Africa, Jane Goodall, who founded a research centre in the 1960’s in Gombe National Park, Western Tanzania.
Our favourite property, Greystoke Mahale, is in the nearby Mahale Mountains National Park which has also had a research presence since the 1960’s set up by a Japanese institute. From here you can take part in a number of activities including hikes in the forest, fishing and Dhow cruises, however, the highlight is definitely spending time observing our closest relative in the natural world.
This part of Western Tanzania is incredibly remote and receives less visitors than almost all other Africa destinations, the cost in both time and money in getting here is most definitely worth it and it is something we would recommend to anyone looking to include something slightly different in their itinerary.
Most guests will see the chimps at least once in a 3 or 4 day stay, but a sighting is never guaranteed. Whilst they could be right behind camp one day, the next they could be high in the mountains. Chimp trekking happens during every full day that you’ll spend at Greystoke, and you’ll usually always head off – armed with water and snacks – first thing in the morning. We’ll take you up into the forest in two groups of six, accompanied by guides and trackers.
Once you’ve found them, and we hope you’ve enjoyed the journey to get there, you’ll have 1 hour to hang out with them and watch as they play, groom and forage on the floor around you. We do ask that you wear a light surgical mask over your nose and mouth when you’re near the chimps, this is purely because of germs; chimps share so much of our DNA and are very prone to catching all our coughs and sneezes. These masks are available in camp so you don’t need to bring with you.
Do bring good footwear with you as sometimes, when the chimps are up high, you can have quite a trek to find them. Whilst you’ll be following paths through the forest, they can get steep and the walking can be strenuous. It’s a good idea to have longs with you too, there is a nasty creeper in the forest called ‘The Buffalo Bean’ which can skin irritations to those who get too close.