12 May 2015 / by Pilot Michael / in 2015 Africa Flying Safari
Air Safari Continues to Mahale
The next stop on the 2015 Air Safari was Mahale National Park situated beautifully on Lake Tanganyika. The flight from the Serengeti to Mahale was beautiful, we passed over open land and land full of people growing food. Though I am a big fan of open spaces with no people, I found a unique beauty in the small plot agriculture that was happening across the land. No land went unused, the hills rolled and the plots were seamless across the hills. Arriving at Lake Tanganyika was nothing short of stunning. Lake Tanganyika holds 18% of the worlds freshwater, is the second deepest lake in the world and the second largest.
The lodge we stayed at in Mahale was beautiful, we were greeted by a Pelican named Duck as we arrived and he was always around to make sure we were happy. The landscape in Mahale is unique to anywhere I have ever been, it was white sand beaches at the edge of the lake closely bordered by very thick, jungle like vegetation. There was no wandering out of camp unless you were on a trail or had a guide with a sharp panga for hacking through the dense ground cover. This environment however is perfect for Chimpanzees. Mahale National park is home to over …… Chimpanzees and what an incredible treat to spend an hour with them, watching them eat, groom, play and otherwise be just like us. We took a group of 6 people and a guide and left from camp at about 9am. From camp we hiked into the thick rain forest of Mahale for maybe 90 minutes, we crossed a couple of small rivers and trekked up a couple nice hills. Suddenly our guide stopped and pointed up into a tree, there almost silent, was a large male chimp eating the small seeds that the tree produced. I would have walked right by had it not been for the guide pointing him out. We walked a few paces past the big guy in the tree and came upon the group he was with. There were about 7 chimps in this group which were part of a much larger group on the island. We sat quietly near the trail and watched as a mother carried her baby up into the brush. As I sat there, the baby jumped off his mothers back and decided to walk on his own. He looked back and made eye contact with me and we stared at each other with the same look of curiosity, he wasn’t scared, just curious. It was quite a special moment. As we sat and watched the group I smiled as I watched them lounge around, eat a bit, groom a bit and otherwise enjoy life. It was great to watch the baby find a large piece of tree bark which he used as a makeshift sled or hide and seek toy. Watching those chimpanzees for an hour was an unspoken lesson in life.