Chimpanzee Trekking
in Western Tanzania

Go off-grid to spend time chimp trekking in search of our closest primate cousin in the Mahale mountains

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About Chimp Trekking

Chimpanzee trekking is quite unlike any of the more traditional forms of safari. Here you are on your feet throughout and in awe inspiring forest that bears no resemblance to anything you will have encountered elsewhere in the country.

The Mahale Mountains is a corner of the globe you will never forget. On the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika where the waters are turquoise, cool and alluring, you will find your base of Greystoke Mahale – a perfect setting for your few days with the chimps.

Time spent in the company of the Mahale chimps is unlike any game viewing on earth. 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. But there is a persistent frisson of suspense, heightened by the occasional chimp calls echoing through the treetops ahead.

Occasionally the canopy parts and Lake Tanganyika’s clear water is visible several thousand feet below, its waters receding towards the distant shores of the Congo.

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.

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WHY WE LOVE CHIMP TREKKING

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. 

When you find the chimps you are often in close proximity to them (sometimes they pass within a few feet of you) and because they’re habituated, they more or less ignore you.

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BEST TIME TO GO CHIMPANZEE TREKKING

When the best time of year is to visit Mahale and the chimps depends to a degree on what your objectives are. 

If your primary concern is to see the chimps, then while the obvious time to be there is during the dry season (June to October), there are good reasons for thinking about visiting Mahale in the low season, which means the time between November to March. 

The season is low because it doesn’t suit humans quite as well as the high season. The same isn’t true of the chimps who don’t give a fig about the weather. The bonus about going at this time of year is that it costs less, and there are far fewer people there. But having spent many months in Mahale during the rains, we can testify to it still being a superb experience for the chimps (and a lot else besides).

If on the other hand, you like the idea of more predictable weather and all the things that go with that, then it is worth paying the extra cost of going during the dry season – June – October.

BEST TIME TO GO CHIMPANZEE TREKKING

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Where To go CHIMPANZEE TREKKING

Mahale Mountains National Park Discover More
Highlights
  • Chimp trekking in the mountains
  • The magical Greystoke Mahale
  • Crystal clear waters of Lake Tanganyika
  • Combine with the wild Katavi National Park
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“Natural High shines rays of adventurous light into some of the least explore, most exciting corners of the wider world.
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Our Favourite Camps & Lodges

Sitting on a white sandy beach on the lake shore at the foot of the Mountains is one of the most unusual and exceptional experiences in Africa.
Greystoke Mahale

One of the most beautiful and dramatic locations of anywhere in East Africa, sitting on a white sandy beach at the base of the 8,000ft Mahale Mountains overlooking the turquoise waters of Lake Tanganyika.

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EARLY DAYS IN MAHALE

This photograph, taken at the airstrip in Mahale was shot by Carole and Derek N. among the first Natural High clients ever.

At the time, Natural High founder, Alex Edwards was fortunate to be flying as a bush-pilot in Tanzania – a job that was pure pilot heaven, flying in and out of some wonderfully wild and remote locations across East Africa where you shared the sky only with eagles.

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IF IT’S CHIMPS YOU WANT, PLAN EARLY

Over the years this experience has become amongst the most popular in Africa and rightly so.

Time in the Mahale Mountains is completely wild and staying in the magical Greystoke Mahale makes for an unforgettable adventure in Western Tanzania. Greystoke Mahale, a gem of a camp lying on the shores of Lake Tanganyika gets booked up well in advance, so our advice is always to start the planning early – the earlier, the better!

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COMBINE MAHALE WITH THE WILD KATAVI

Flying for four to five hours over almost the entire length and breadth of Tanzania to Katavi is a great way to illustrate just how wild and remote the far west of Tanzania is.

Katavi National Park’s real attraction is the wilderness and remains wonderfully unsullied by mass-tourism so you’re unlikely to encounter many other folks. The game is exceptional, and highlights include plenty of lion versus buffalo interactions as well as unbelievable numbers of mud-jammed hippos and cave digging crocs in the Katuma River. So, if you’re looking for a safari that combines big game and chimpanzees, start your research in Western Tanzania.

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Chimpanzee Trekking (FAQs) Need to Know

Do I need to be particularly fit to go chimpanzee trekking?

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.

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