Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Queen of the Lake

This is the MV Liemba. The worlds oldest passenger- and cargo ship still in service. Steeped in history, the Liemba ploughs its way through the clear waters of Lake Tanganyika for 99 years now!

 As the biggest ship in operation on Lake Tanganyika its importance to the people and the countries around the lake is immense. Linking Tanzania and Zambia directly – and servicing many ports along the way - the Liemba moves heaps of goods and loads of passengers. Simply unmissable for the many that depend on its movements.

Originally built in 1913 in Germany as a Warship by the name of Graf van Gatzen, it actively participated in the control over Lake Tanganyika in the early years of the first World War. Scuttled in 1916 by her captain, the British Royal Navy raised her again in 1927 and she then was recommisioned the MV Liemba – changing her cannons for passengers and goods.

Living on the unspoiled beaches of the Mahale Mountains National Park brings us close to this fascinating ship. Twice a week it sails our horizon in the early hours of the day. This time around we went for a more personal inspection and grabbed a boat to get close.

We certainly raise a glass  on her centennial anniversary next year!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Greystoke grooming session

Yesterday morning. A lot of noise from the forest again. Actually, we heard it already in the distance during the night. And this time around it weren’t any school children...

It were the chimpanzees – and a a rather large group of them. 

As the sounds became louder throughout the morning, it was clear these apes were heading for Greystoke.
All guests had been out chimp tracking that morning and now enjoying a deserved rest in their rooms.

That this time around the chimpanzees would come right into camp and sit on the very pathways between the guest rooms nobody could have hoped for.

As the men groomed each other on the path, a beautiful lady stretched her legs on her back. A baby was observing us from the bush and another lady was sitting on a branch as if she was a human. Seriously,  encounters like this are striking.

This was as much an experience for us as well as our guests. So close, so much in common – it really is unbelievable.

All in all the groups counted 16 adults spread out over camp. I wonder why June is said to be for a more challenging time?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Conservation is all about grassroots…

A loud and enthusiastic noise was approaching from the forest yesterday afternoon. Not knowing what it exactly was, I asked Suzanne if she might be expecting someone.

A good minute later my question was answered. A fantastic group of kids from Kalilani Primary School (standard 3 – 7) had a day out excursion into Mahale Mountains national park. Accompanied by the Tanzanian National Park authorities, they were hiking through the forest to meet with our closest living relatives.

As they stopped by Greystoke Mahale and rested for a bit, we offered them to talk with one of our chimpanzee trackers for some good first hand stories. Loudly enthusiastic as they were, they went completely quiet as Sulemani – our Greystoke Tracker - spoke.

It's these enthusiastic kids that are literally at the base of the surrounding communities. And you know what?The level of interest that these youngsters showed is nothing else but real good news for the conservation of these great apes! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Get your cameras out...!

The past two days consisted of some pretty intensive but rewarding chimpanzee trekking. Most of our guests had to put in some proper effort to get up close to these Great Apes.

But this morning four fantastic chimpanzees decided we had done enough effort for now. Not only did they come two visit us in Greystoke Camp, they brought with them two of their amazing juveniles.

Hanging out in the Ficus Golomasa tree that is overlooking part of the office, these four chimps sampled the little fruits that it starts bearing now. Curious as these two new borns were, their mothers laid and rested at some of the bigger branches.

Look at these guys! What a perfect glimps into the season that is ahead of us!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A new place, a new start!

Changing homes from the beautiful north Serengeti plains to the stunning Mahale Mountain range is a luxurious treat. We are so happy to be back in the mountains again but still have our feet close to the water. 

And what kind of a water that is...

That lake Tanganyika would be awesome we knew from the moment we heard about it. But that the lake offers such a true paradise we could have never imagined!

As we made our way down on a 13 hour boat ride, we had a ll the time in the world to get used to our new and immediate neighbour. Crystal clear, over 670 km in length - this is going to be a growing relationship.

And a serious and fun challenge!