Are you interested in offering chimp trekking in Tanzania to your clients?
From where to stay to what to pack, Mbali Mbali Lodges and Camps share their expertise on Chimp Trekking with this introductory FAQ.
1. When is the best time of year to see the chimps?
In Mahale the chimps move down the mountain depending on the ripeness of the fruits. From June to August they are bit further up in the hills, September through to November they are a little closer to camp. In Gombe, there are more habituated groups so it's slightly easier to see the chimps. As with any wild animals there is no guarantee to how close they will be but we can guarantee it will be one of the most amazing experiences you will have.
2. Why choose Mbali Mbali for chimp trekking?
Mbali Mbali have two superb camps; Kungwe Beach Lodge in Mahale Mountains National Park and Gombe Forest Lodge in Gombe Stream National Park. Both camps are in fantastic locations with the best guides. The head guide in Mahale, Rama, is the best in the business. His father worked with with Jane Goodall, so it was inevitable he got involved in Chimpanzee conservation.
3. How do I get there?
You can get to Mahale and Gombe from Arusha with Zantas Air every Monday or Thursday. Once you clear 'customs' at Mahale or Gombe Airport it's a 90 minute boat ride down Lake Tanganyika to Mahale and north to Gombe.
4. Where can I stay with Mbali Mbali?
We have one property in Gombe called Gombe Forest Lodge and one in Mahale called Kungwe Beach Lodge, named after the imposing mountain that is behind the lodge.
5. What happens on the day?
The morning starts with a hearty breakfast and then a pre-trek meeting to advise you of the chimps rough location and the approximate time to get to see them. You're then given your water bottle belt and off you go in to the forest and up the mountain. The location of the chimps depends on the duration of the trek. Sometimes it could take 3 hours to get to them, sometimes it could be 30 minutes. Some times you may find the chimps in camp at Kungwe, in search of the ripe lemons and mango that surround the camp. You will spend one hour with chimps, we call it 'The Magic Hour'. You then walk down the mountain and back to camp where a cold towel awaits you and a long cold drink too. Dinner that night by the camp fire will be all about the chimps!
6. What should I wear/bring on the trek?
It's always a good idea to wear sturdy walking shoes or boots, trousers and a long sleeved shirt. There is every chance that the mountain will leave you with a few Gombe or Kungwe tattoos (scratches) just to remind you are in a wild and beautiful place! You'll need a rucksack/bag for your camera plus a hat. Water is provided throughout the trek.
7. What's it like seeing Chimpanzees in the wild?
Seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild, and only 5 metres away, is one of the most amazing experiences you will ever have. The hour you spend with them will go quickly and it's easy to spend that hour with your eye glued to your viewfinder of your camera, missing some of the interactions between the group. We recommend spending the first 15 minutes just observing the chimps, it will be worth it for the memories you will come back to camp with.
8. How many opportunities will I have to see the Chimps?
On a 3 night stay at one of our camps you will get two chimp treks, on a 4 night stay you will get three chimp treks. You also get a two hour taster on the first day where you learn all about the flora and fauna of the forest plus learn what the chimps eat for maintaining health and also what they use for medicinal purposes. You may even find leopard tracks at Kungwe, there are 6 of them that patrol the area!
9. What else can you do whilst staying with Mbali Mbali?
Whilst staying at Gombe or Mahale we include lots of activities to make a stay there one of the best experiences you can have in the wild. On top of all meals and drinks being included you can go kayaking on the lake at both camps and at Mahale we take you to the local village for a cultural visit or a boat ride down the lake to see the hippos and crocodiles.
For more information on Mbali Mbali Lodges and Camps, or rates for Gombe Forest Lodge and Kungwe Beach Lodge, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.