Reviews of Greystoke Mahale
Wildlife sightings and reviews
46 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Greystoke Mahale and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"Tanzanian Birthday Adventure"
As the dhow, which had brought us from the airstrip to the camp, pulled onto the beach we were greeted by staff who implored us to quickly disembark as there were 2 chimpanzees in the camp - which watched, awestruck, as the chimps played in the trees by the camp kitchen and then followed them up the small hill behind the camp where we stood watching them groom each other. We could not have asked for a better start to our stay at the camp.
The days that followed were fantastic with marvellous sightings of chimps quite low down and relatively close to the camp on the first day, the second day the chimps had taken themselves off into the mountains so we left the younger guests to make that trek!!
On our final day there were a few chimps low down so Peter and I ( the geriatrics!!) opted to trek them whilst the other guests had quite a gruelling hike back into the mountains to find the main group. Our little trek turned into a delightful nature walk seeing not only chimps but other wildlife too. Our guide Butati told us about the vegetation and plant life and spotted things that we would have just not seen like the green spotted tree snake - very interesting.
Each afternoon after a siesta we all went out in the dhow - the plan was a gentle trip on the water but once the fishing lines came out some how there became a great rivalry between the men and the women as to who could catch the most, the biggest and the smallest fish! I caught the first one - a yellow belly - and for that I had to kiss the fish. Later , Sarah, another guest caught a huge fork tail perch. Over the days we were there the women caught the most and the biggest fish but Peter won the prize for the smallest!
Each evening we had sushi, to accompany our pre dinner drinks, made from some of the yellow belly caught that day, on the first day we also enjoyed some of the fork tail perch with our dinner. Any remaining big fish went to the staff or TANAPA . The small fish were the most important catch - they were for Big Boy the habituated pelican at the camp who is unable to fish for himself
On our last afternoon dhow trip apart from the fishing we also went up a river seeing some interesting bird life as well as many crocodile. We had also had the opportunity to swim in the lake.
All the staff at Greystoke are fantastic. Our guides Mwega and Butati were marvellous. Their knowledge of the chimps ( knowing each one by name and recognising their voices) was amazing and their general knowledge about the environment etc second to none. Added to this they were a fantastic double act and should they ever retire from guiding should go on stage!! Pity they are Arsenal supporters!! ( I jest!)
A very big thank you to Kerry who managed to keep smiling and keep every thing running smoothly despite her damaged ankle whilst her husband, Geoff ( camp manager) and Cameron ( about to take over from Geoff) both took to their beds with flu. Thanks also for our birthday cakes." See all these reviews: 17n in Tanzania
"Amazing chimpanzees at Greystoke Mahale"
The location of this camp is absolutely stunning. I am so pleased that Liz persuaded us to come here! Everything about the camp was just wonderful, the views over the lake, the beautiful colours of the trees in the forest, the food, the delightful, friendly staff, Big Bird and finally trekking through the forest to find the chimpanzees. We had such an amazing time just watching them. Listening to their stories from the guides added to the whole experience.
It was a very special way to end our trip to Tanzania." See all these reviews: 13n in Tanzania
"Greystoke Mahale review"
Very nice lodge and pictersque location, but each rooms are a little bit down a path so as darkness sets in they soon get hit by the light fading. Good food at the main lodge and very nice bar overlooking a sunset location.
Good views and interactions with chimps on both days we were treking, and spent the optimum 1 hr with them on the first day and approx. 1/2 hr on the second before they move away from us. The nearness of the chimps each day makes the distance to walk the factor in seeing them.
If you're into activities they're very focused around seeing the chimps and the boat ride out into the lake or afternoon walk (very little to actually see in the forest) are not too great pulls. The boat trip up the coast to the river estuary is good but beware the insects as the dusk settles in." See all these reviews: 15n in Tanzania
"Not just about chimps"
The camp is comfortable and well-appointed - a relaxed and relaxing atmosphere (although actually tracking the chimps up the ridge and through dense vegetation is not for the faint-hearted or weak-kneeed!). And it was a real pleasure to spend three interesting days without even seeing a truck!" See all these reviews: 15n in Tanzania
"Greystoke Camp review"
Greystoke exceeded our expectations because as well as seeing the chimpanzees, it's also a very lovely and relaxing place to stay." See all these reviews: 11n in Tanzania; 3n in Zanzibar
"Greystoke was out of this world"
We were collected by Lazaro and Hamza two of the guides and taken by boat to camp. The colour of the lake was the first thing that hit me! It's so turquoise blue. Its quite a long trip by boat to camp but we were served an absolutely delicious lunch and drinks and were quite happy to lie back and enjoy.
When we finally arrived, we were given a warm welcome by the managers Steve and Kerry and the rest of the staff. Steve, Kerry and the rest of the staff could not have been more helpful or friendly. I should also say that Steve and Kerry had the whole place working like clockwork; it was very well managed.
Our banda was delightful; so different from a standard hotel room. It had everything you could possibly need but also had so much character.
The food at Greystoke was the best we had. Every meal was delicious and different. But it all felt quite healthy! Lots of salads and fruit. It was hard to imagine we were so far from the closest market!.
And now to the stars of the show at Greystoke - the chimps. On the first day, the group could not be found. As the morning drew on, a few of the guests including us went for a walk into the forest with one of the guides while the trackers kept looking. We did eventually see a few individual chimps including a mother and very small baby, as well as some colobus and other monkeys. While we were a bit disappointed not to have seen the group, we were glad to have seen the forest and to have had our first chimp sightings.
On the second day, the whole group of chimps were found just behind the beach along from the camp and so, with very little effort, we were able to see them. It was fabulous to see so many and catch a glimpse of them interreacting with each other (and us!). The only downsides were the heat and shortness of time to see the chimps. It was very, very hot and quite enclosed amongst the thick undergrowth. With the addition of face masks it was a bit uncomfortable.
We were allowed one hour with the chimps. While I understand why, and objectively I can see why it is thought necessary to have such restrictions, it felt very short particularly as we had not seen the group the day before.
Apart from chimp searching, we loved just enjoying the views and relaxing in our banda or in the main camp buildings, reading all the fascinating material they have on the chimps. But we also tried kayaking and fishing, and I spent a lot of time in the lake swimmming. So there was certainly no shortage of things to do; just not enough time in our brief stay to do them!.
Each evening drinks were served up in the bar overlooking the lake, with dinner either in the main buildings or on the beach. It was very special to be sitting out on the beach in the middle of nowhere, but in such comfort and luxury!
There were a number of guides at Greystoke. Our main guide was Lazaro. He was a great guy, friendly, helpful, very well informed about the chimps and full of enthusiasm. Hamza had arrived just a short time before we arrived and was still learning about the chimps. However he was a very knowledgeable guide and as his english was near perfect, we were able to have more in depth discussions with him about Tanzania and its wildlife etc. We know he had previously managed one of the other Nomad camps. So I am not sure where he would go next; whether as a guide or manager. But we were really impressed by him and he is definitely an asset to Nomad who they should hold on to if they can!
Paul was the other guide. While he never guided our group and so we did not get to know him quite as well as the others, he was also clearly knowledgeable with a great sense of humour.
If I was recommending Greystoke to others-which of course I would do - I would highly recommend that they tried to go for the 4 nights rather than the 3. Having only two opportunities to see the chimps made it quite pressurised. Also you just want to stay at Greystoke as long as possible - it is so beautiful - and it is such a long way to get there!
The only other observation I would have is this. If I was going again I would go earlier-perhaps late August. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, it was beginning to get very hot and humid when we were there in early October and August would I think have been much less humid but still dry. Also there were quite a few tsetse flies around. We did not get too badly bitten but they were very annoying particularly when out in the kayaks and in the boat, even when swimming. Going earlier would also have avoided this problem.
Also apparently the chimps come to eat the fruit from some trees right behind the camp - right behind the managers' office - and if you go when the fruit is there - apparently August /September - we were told you have a fairly good chance of seeing the chimps on a daily basis without even leaving the confort of the camp" See all these reviews: 12n in Tanzania
"Greystoke Camp review"
Our guide Ka-Kae was outstanding, one of the best we've had anywhere in the world. We're glad that we spent four nights at Greystoke -- three chimp treks are needed to begin to appreciate and understand their behavior.
One of the best wildlife experiences ever." See all these reviews: 8n in Tanzania; 4n in Rwanda
"Greystoke Camp review"
The following 2 days we again only had to walk 20-40 minutes to find them. They ignored us and continued grooming, feeding, playing and interacting meters away from us. Some even ran between us as we stood to the side out of their way. As the alpha male of M community ran by us, he punched a guide in the leg as well as slapping my pratner's leg! This community was obviously normalized to humans.
That afternoon we went by boat down the lake, motoring past the border of M community's territory and into K community's territory. K community is not normalized to humans, and so are very shy. We were lucky enough to see 15 of them playing in the trees! The guides were very excited as this group of chimps are not ofter seen! We tried to get a bit closer to the shore for an even better look, but when they heard the boat, they quickly dispersed. We also fished from the boat with success!
All the staff were very friendly and exceptionally attentive. Petra & Hugh were wonderful hosts, paying attention to all details, both large & small. The cuisine was fresh and tasty, amazingly so considering the isolated location of the camp and the logistics required for all the camp's necessities!!" See all these reviews: 10n in Tanzania; 2n in Zanzibar
"Greystoke Camp review"
Face masks have to be worn when anywhere near the chimps - to prevent human infections passing to them - and these are a real problem for spec wearers and for anyone trying to use the eyepieces of cameras or binos (they steam up instantly you put the masks on). Wish someone had told me to take contact lenses - I have them for skiing (same problem) but did not think they would be needed on this trip. Take a small towel and lots of lens cloths for your camera.
The humidity, and very early arrival of the rains, meant washing in the camp could not dry. If you tend to travel very light (or, like us, take so much camera equipment that this is forced upon you) you may find you end up wearing clothes to dry them. We travelled home with a bag of clean and beautifully pressed damp clothes!" See all these reviews: 13n in Tanzania
"Great experience at Greystoke"
The camp is located in a fantastic spot and the palatial rooms are full of character and intricate details.
But no doubt, the chimps are the star attraction. We were lucky to get very good sightings every day of our stay and while the trekking can be a bit strenous, it was still doable for the unfit (ie. us).
The crystal clear waters of the lake are especially appealing after a morning's hiking and just relaxing by the beach is a great complement (or even alternative...) to the chimp trekking. A cool cocktail by the lake and a wholesome dinner perfectly rounded off our days and it felt almost unreal to head back home from this fantastic place." See all these reviews: 15n in Tanzania
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Other lodges in Mahale Mountains National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Mbali Mbali Mahale
Mbali Mbali Mahale is a smart lodge on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, primarily visited by travellers keen to meet habituated chimpanzees.