To get to some of the best places in this world you often have to step off the normal trodden routes and plunge yourself into an adventure of a lifetime.
To the far west of Tanzania lies the Mahale Mountains National Park, located on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, Africa’s deepest Lake. The best way to get here is via a small charter flight (12 seater) from Arusha. The last 30 minutes of the 5 hour flight comes in over the Mahale Mountains and you start to get a feeling of how isolated this incredible place is. Soon Lake Tanganyika comes into view and lying on the edge of the Lake is a small strip of cut grass that you soon realise is your airstrip.
On arrival, your met by a big smiling African guide and transferred by boat to camp (there are no roads here). Soon the buffet lunch comes out, and as you drift down the Lake on the traditional dhow boat, you begin to understand why you spent your hard earned money to come to this far off land. An hour and half later and you arrive at camp, taking your shoes off the jump onto shore of one of the most amazing sandy beaches you ever laid your eyes on, with Lake Tanganyika on one side and the Mahale Mountains rising up sharply directly behind camp. Your managers welcome you and show you to your room that lies camouflaged at the edge of the forest, looking right out over the Lake and beach. Each of the rooms has been made to exquisite but rustic style using only local materials from the forest and local fishing boats. After a long, but incredible journey, you treat yourself to an ice cold glass of G&T before a hearty meal and then head to bed with the noises of the forest behind your room sending you off into a deep sleep.
The following morning you wake up early, excited like a small child at Christmas, because today you’re heading off trekking in search of Chimpanzees in the mountains behind camp. Your guide takes you up at a nice steady pace and points out interesting facts about the surrounding fauna and nature. Depending on what time of year you go will depend on where the Chimps are likely to be located, sometimes they are right behind camp and other times they are high in the mountains. So a good pair of walking shoes, long trousers and long sleeve shirt is recommended as you may well be cutting a path through the forest to get close to the chimps. As you approach you can hear them crashing around in the trees and making calls to each other and the excitement and adrenaline kick up another notch. Then all of a sudden you catch your first glimpse of one and your heart stops for a moment as you take in an intimate moment between fellow primates. For the next hour you watch and capture them as they carry on with their daily lives; children playing, mothers mothering and the males trying to prove who is more dominant! If you are joining one of Capture Safaris photo tours then Paul will on hand to offer advice about capturing the best shots in the low light conditions.
As the hour finishes you can’t help coming away feeling immensely privileged and overwhelmed by the close interaction and experience.