This year I decided to made an effort to visit some outstanding locations on my own bucket list. Top of my list was Katavi National Park & Chimp Trekking in the Mahale Mountains. Whilst that's fantastic for me, of course, I also know it will benefit my customers when I take them out on a bespoke Safari as I will have first-hand knowledge of planning and leading your safari through these remote locations when the time comes.
Exploring the Unknown
Western Tanzania has always looked like another step further into the uncharted for me because I started my company in Ruaha National Park and am currently championing the wilds of southern Tanzania.
A few number of brave travellers make it this far. This is due to a number of factors, including the fact that it is not well known, especially in a nation that is home to the Serengeti, Zanzibar, and Mount Kilimanjaro. It requires some travel time and isn't the best option for your first and possibly only safari. But if you're like me, that's exactly what grabs your attention, so off I went!
Katavi National Park
The Selous (Nyerere National Park) or Ruaha are the two southern entryways of Katavi National Park. It is large, isolated, abundant with wildlife, and has stunning landscape for those who are prepared to make the effort to travel there. Visitors are usually those who have previously gone on safari, and are now searching for an unspoiled location. If you are looking for a location where you can truly feel like you're in the middle of nowhere with no one else in sight for miles, Katavi is a very rewarding spot.
There is plenty of big game, elephants, giraffes, and buffalo, so don't anticipate any concessions on those fronts.Every day, we observed lions (one a male perched in a tree who later joined us for sundowners) and a leopard close to our camp. Along the rivers and in the surrounding extensive marshes, there are hippos, crocodiles, and an amazing birdlife. not to mention a massive amount of tsetse flies!
From there Safari purists can stay at Chada Katavi, and like all great safari camps, this one was the product of a single person's obsession. The setting is excellent, with towering jackelberries overlooking the river lowlands, and traditional safari tents featuring handcrafted original furniture. Whilst the elephants will be keeping you occupied snd making you late for lunch and the monkeys will be drinking your shower water.
In addition, Chada offers a great selection of activities besides game drives. One of the best things to do here is the night drives and finding fly-camping, which is always entertaining. A team of experienced staff members go with you as you drive out to a particularly gorgeous and wild area of the park. There you will take a hike in, and then set up your simple camp in the underbrush. You can then end the night with a wonderful meal outside, whilst you are all telling stories around the campfire.
The Mahale Mountains are reachable by short flight from Katavi (you can also get there from the Serengeti via Arusha). Forget all you thought you knew about safaris; Greystoke Mahale is an experience unlike any other, and Mahale Mountains National Park doesn't fit into any categories. You board a traditional dhow for the boat trip into the park along the beaches of Lake Tanganyika after landing just outside the park. The mountains seem improbably out of the lake's turquoise, crystal-clear waters as the boat's vibrations calm your nerves. When you turn a curve and see Greystoke, the forest is calling.
Chimpanzees are Calling
Superlatives aside, visiting the chimpanzees is the main event here. The excellent hosts and chimp guides walk you through the entire process on your first evening. The scouts have already travelled up and down the mountain by the time breakfast arrives, and word of the chimpanzees' whereabouts is coming in. It's time to start hiking. The chimpanzees occasionally wander through the camp, but other times it's just a leisurely boat trip and a stroll through the forest for an hour of delightful companionship. Sometimes, like on our first morning, it takes a full two hours of arduous walking while navigating the jungle and briefly scrambling up, down, and around.
That made it even more amazing when a young male chimpanzee emerged from some nearby bushes after hearing a disturbance and amusedly regarded my messy appearance. Above me, Teddy, the dominating group member, let out a series of electrifying pant hoots as I struggled with my camera. I shall never forget the sight and sound I had envisioned seeing and hearing my entire life.
If this sounds like an adventure for you get in touch and we can discuss your Safari bucket list. We curate a host of Privately Guided Safaris that are tailored to you!