Lake Tanganyika is special in many ways, it’s the worlds longest, second deepest and holds around 17% of the world’s fresh water. Tanganyika is an old lake which has an amazing variety of life in its waters including 100’s of species of fish that are found know where else. One fish, the Kuhe is particularly tasty. Mato Athumani drives Greystoke's boats and is an expert at catching this prized fish. He’s a good-humored guy who's always smiling, when we send him fishing he usually comes back with enough fish to feed the whole camp.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Its not all about the Chimpanzee’s at Mahale, our staff are the key to a guests experience and we are proud of the guys. Our new waiter Nishda Moshi is a young man from the local village and is a member of the Kitongwe tribe. Nishda is named after the Japanese researcher who first habituated the Chimpanzee’s of Mahale, way back in 1965, and Nishda’s father is still a tracker for the Japanese research team.
Just the other night we where sitting under the stars eating dinner when Nishda suddenly started to dance. It turns out that he once danced in a local group and it seems that at any time he can break out into a traditional dance when he feels the rhythm. If you’re lucky you might get to see Nishda dance as well.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
New guests arrived today in the middle of a down poor, everyone looked very tired after long journeys and went straight to their bandas for an afternoon siesta. Later we met for a chat and afternoon tea, one guest who shell remain nameless, managed to fall asleep while I was giving the low down on the camp. I didn't think it was that boring.
During the chat George Bushbuck graced us with his presence, he is a beautiful bambi like antelope who has no problem with us walking right up to him for a photo shoot.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Football or soccer on the beach is a favorite pastime for the staff and when the guests show an interest in playing the guys are down like a shot. Kais Halim was the star player for the guests, and his team won easily. Typically, I came away with another injury and lost.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Amazingly the Chimpanzees decided to walk through camp on Christmas Day. It was a special present for our guests especially Laury Isenberg who has difficulty walking. The community sat eating big ripe figs in a tree next to the staff quarters. Laury was sitting on a portable seat watching when Kalunde and Alofu walked right up to her and sat down only feet away. Their was no way that Laury could move back the required 10 meters so we all watched as the two old males sat peacefully next to Laury who had Mwiga our trainee guide standing behind her reassuringly. Another memorable Christmas at Mahale.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
One day to Christmas and the Mahale Chefs are hard at work preparing several dishes for the big day. We are about to make traditional Egg nog which is always a hit the night before Christmas. Luckily the Chimpanzees are close by camp today, who knows they might join us for a drop.
The Mahale staff are all thinking of Dickson Mdemu (our head waiter) he had to fly out at the last minute to attend his father’s funeral. All the staff kindly donated what they could for a collection to help Dickson and his family.
Welcome to Greystoke Mahale’s new blog site. Cut off from the worries of the outside world Greystoke is a world famous lodge where you can enjoy spectacular scenery, while swimming (beware of the Crocodiles, and water Cobra’s) or boating on Lake Tanganyika, or relaxing on its white sand beaches. We live on a stretch of sand called Kangwena beach which is about one and half hours by boat from our small airstrip. Oh, I nearly forgot, here you can also personally meet a very special cousin of ours the Eastern Robust Chimpanzee.
Thanks to Kyoto University Mahale National Park is home to a unique community of Chimps who are so used to people that they carry on their daily lives while we can stand and watch seemingly with out bothering them. The Japanese have been studying the behavior of the M community since 1965 and have never given the Chimps a reason to distrust us, this means we have an incredible chance to get up and close to them. Its not unusual for Chimpanzee’s to brush past your legs as they move down the path, and a word of warning, always hold you walking stick behind your back our you might find it in the hands of a displaying Chimp.
We’ve worked in remote places before but nothing like Mahale. The Fiords of the South Island of New Zealand, Northern Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, and the central mountains of New Zealand’s North Island mustn’t have been enough so we decided to go one step further and move to the wilds of Africa. Even the National parks of Zambia didn’t seem remote enough so here we are sitting on Kangwena beach looking out at the Congo. What’s next you might ask? Well apparently there may be a new species of ape yet to be photographed over in the Congo, who knows, maybe somebody can give us a grant to find them! Jokes aside, we are extremely lucky that Nomad have given us the chance to work in such a wild and exotic location like Mahale National Park.
Our blog will endeavor to show you a small slice of what life is like for the Mahale family that lives here, including, the guests, managers, 28 staff, and 700 Chimpanzees.
Untill next time. Steve, Kiri and the team.