August 13th 2018 |
Travel, Wildlife Safaris, Unique Experiences, Tanzania | by
Gorilla tracking comes high on many people’s wish lists and the reality of seeing our close cousins in the wild, in Uganda or Rwanda, never disappoints. Chimp tracking is also an unforgettable experience as you watch their primate antics and family group dynamics.
Chimpanzee tracking in the Mahale Mountains, in Tanzania, Greystoke Mahale
For those of us who’ve tracked chimps, and I’ve done it in Kyambura Gorge in Uganda from Kyambura Gorge Lodge and the Mahale Mountains in Tanzania based at Greystoke Mahale, the experience can be equally rewarding.
Beautiful setting of Greystoke Mahale in the Mahale Mountains alongside Lake Tanganyika
Kyambura Gorge in Uganda
As well as Kyambura Gorge there are also chimps in Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park. From Ndali Lodge, treks head into the national park in the morning and afternoon, giving guests a better than average chance of finding the chimp families eating in the morning close to their nesting site or bedding down for the evening in the late afternoon.
Chimp tracking in Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park, Ndali Lodge
In Tanzania’s remote west, Greystoke Mahale is tucked on a beach at the foot of the Mahale Mountains alongside Lake Tanganyika. Chimp tracks head out in the morning following directions radioed in from the forest by park rangers. Depending on the chimps’ position on the hillside trackers might be back on the beach in time for lunch or only arriving back in time for a cooling swim and a sundowner cocktail. It’s a super destination to stay for a few days; as well as seeing chimps in the forest, guests get the chance to swim in hillside pools, kayak on Lake Tanganyika or relax on the beach with a drink in hand.
Enjoying drinks at Greystoke Mahale
I loved chimp tracking and for me a power struggle I saw between two males was just as compelling as any of gorilla experiences. That said, it’s not an either/or choice since both experiences are wonderful.
Chimpanzee at Kyambura Gorge, Uganda
If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.
We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.
One of the founders of Aardvark Safaris, Richard comes from a background working in both Africa and travel. Shunning the exciting world of quantity surveying (with apologies to all exciting quantity surveyors out there)
One of the founders of Aardvark Safaris, Richard comes from a background working in both Africa and travel. Shunning the exciting world of quantity surveying (with apologies to all exciting quantity surveyors out there) Richard spent the first ten years after university flitting between summers on a river somewhere in the world as a raft guide, videographer or canoe instructor, and winters in the Alps as a ski guide, or the Operations Manager for a ski company.
His claim to fame (in his own mind) is that during his time working on the Zambezi River, based in Victoria Falls, he was one of the members of a group of kayakers who made the first moonlit descent of the rapids in the Zambezi Gorge. In addition he spent time in Botswana and Zimbabwe making promotional films for safari companies, and met the other Aardvark Safaris’ founder John Spence.
Richard is a keen sportsman but though he has tried many sports including football, volleyball, kayaking, canoeing, skiing, snowboarding, telemarking, bouldering, mountain biking and bmx-ing he’s not particularly accomplished in anything. With the ability to swim, ride a bike and run, he was gripped by a midlife crisis a few years ago and trained for enough hours to annoy both family and work colleagues and eventually became an Ironman triathlete, completing the 2.5 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26 mile run in something just over 14 hours. He also recently podium'ed as 3rd placed Grand Vet in a downhill mountain bike competition (and no there weren't only three in his category).
Having founded Aardvark Safaris with John in 1999, Richard travelled intensively throughout Africa for a number of years before his children grew old enough to start asking why they weren’t invited. Since then he’s travelled with his wife and kids to Mauritius, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa. With a wide breadth of geographical knowledge (in Africa at least) and having arranged safari holidays over the years for many of our clients, Richard is a good person to talk to about almost all of the countries we offer, no matter who you are or with whom you’re travelling.
Favourite African experience
I particularly enjoyed the look on my wife’s face when she realised the beautiful breakfast set up under an acacia tree in the middle of the African plains was for us – we were the VIPs that the chef (in full whites) and camp team were waiting for!
It changes. Right now it’s warthogs. I love the way they stick their tails in the air as if radio controlled. Annoyingly they seem to always run away from you though, meaning a good photo seems almost impossible to get.
Favourite three camps
I saw three different leopard on a single wildlife drive from Mombo Camp in the Okavango Delta and on our return to camp there was a porcupine displaying its quills under the boardwalk. The density and quality of wildlife, together with rooms where ‘you can almost see from one end to the other on a clear day’ makes Mombo one for the memory banks.
[caption id="attachment_22991" align="alignnone" width="600"] Family of leopards, Okavango Delta, Botswana, Mombo camp[/caption]
I love the quirkiness of the rooms at Kaya Mawa on Lake Malawi; they're all different to each other and blend in with the granite outcrops fabulously. More an inland sea than a lake, the waters are great for freshwater snorkelling and diving – not only do you get great fish viewing, but you’re not sticky with salt afterwards.
[caption id="attachment_26437" align="alignnone" width="600"] On the shores of Lake Malawi, Kaya Mawa[/caption]
Stopping at three camps doesn’t feel right; I could go on for pages. However if I have to finish I’d end with Greystoke Camp in the Mahale National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. You have a sandy beach in front of you, with forested mountains rising 600m behind you. In the forest are groups of habituated chimps whose interactions are as thrilling as the scenery is stunning.
Oh no, what about the pastel colours at Wolwedans in Namibia, the quirky rooms at Shipwreck Lodge, watching whales from Princesse Bora on Ile Ste Marie, or a sunset across the Luangwa from Nsefu Camp? Can’t we make it your ten favourite camps?
There can’t be many jobs where people want to buy what you sell. I can’t imagine people go into the service department of their local garage happy to plan their service and then part with their money. That’s what we get though; people who are excited about arranging a safari holiday and who just need us to use our knowledge to match them with the myriad of options for them in Africa.
It’s lovely to get so many people saying ‘thank you’ when the planning is complete and the decision made. It’s even better when they come back from Africa with the holiday having exceeded their expectations, thrilled by what they’ve seen and done and bubbling over with excitement. We share all the feedback we get around the offices and I know each of us gets a big thrill when the trips we’ve helped arrange work well and a bit of vicarious pleasure reading each other’s nice feedback too.
It’s a top job and there are few things I’d swap it for, and those I would I’m not skilled enough at (see the previous comments regarding my sporting prowess!)
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