Mahale had always been on the list as well as Katavi – I had always heard they were both special which is perhaps why I underestimated the way I would feel about Greystoke. Over the years there have been many camps I have fallen in love with, San Camp in Botswana, Saruni Samburu in Kenya, Sirikoi in Kenya and Sand Rivers in Tanzania – but this time I fell hard.
I have left my heart in Mahale and I don’t think I’ll ever get it back.
This place is totally unique and unlike any other lodge in all of Africa – the location and quirky and unique style of the property make it unrivalled in terms of unique attributes and wilderness location. It just doesn’t get more remote than this and there are no signs that will change, this lodge was built out of pure love for this area and you can feel it the moment you step off the dhow onto the tropical beach. The soft pale sand is as inviting as any beach I have ever seen and the azure gin clear warm waters of Lake Tanganyika also lure you in like nothing I have ever known.
The lodge is a tropical beach paradise which is backed up by the vast Mahale Mountains with indigenous rainforest just asking to be explored. Of course the huge draw here is the amazing monkeys and chimpanzees you find here, but the birdlife and plant life is also exquisite, as is the opportunity to see hippos swimming in the clear waters of this lake.
Mwiga and Boteti looked after our group and I have never met two men with such wonderful senses of humour, everything you do with them will be the most enjoyable thing you will do – they have endless charm, knowledge and twinkly eyes that find the laughter everywhere. Another highlight was Big Bird, a pelican raised by the managers at the lodge when as a chick he was caught in a storm and washed up on the beach far from his flock. He is exceptionally intelligent and far more like a dog, trying to sneak bits of cake at tea, and knowing full well the areas he’s not allowed in but again trying to sneak in – he loves people and will play catch or come for a squidgy soft feathery cuddle if you let him.
One afternoon I headed out on a one man kayak to sit and relax on the gin clear waters of the lake, and just take in the whole magical vibe of the area – Big Bird decided to join me and sat happily on my feet for the entire journey – every now and again he honked at me if I didn’t row enough as he seemed to love catching the bubbles from the oar. The chimpanzee trekking was nothing short of incredible – we had a long walk and found a large family relaxing and playing, the openness of the jungle makes it less claustrophobic than seeing the gorillas.
The rooms are tropical Robinson Crusoe island in style and are seriously comfortable – the remoteness of this amazing lodge is what will win you over, astound you, and have you wanting to return. I have to go back to try and get my heart back from that special special place.