"Practically no-one ever visited this remote and far-flung place and he wandered for many days without seeing a soul..."
WESTERN TANZANIA IS BOTH WILD AND REMOTE. THE DISTANCE BY AIR FROM ARUSHA TO MAHALE IS ABOUT THE SAME AS FLYING FROM PARIS TO MILAN (WITHOUT THE CONVENIENCE OF EASY JET). KATAVI IS MORE THAN TWICE THE SIZE OF MAURITIUS WITH A POPULATION OF OVER 100,000 BIG MAMMALS AND ONLY A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE AT ITS BUSIEST.
Mahale Mountains National Park, inaccessible except by light aircraft and boat, is home to one of the largest known populations of wild chimpanzees, some 800 strong. A small group of Japanese researchers began studying a group of 60 chimps in the 1960s and continue to this day. 100km north of here, Stanley uttered the enduring words: "Dr Livingstone, I presume" and little seems to have changed since then. Lake Tanganyika is the worlds longest and second deepest freshwater lake, with over 1000 fish species. This is also home to the Tongwe tribe who revere the mountain spirits of Nkungwe, the highest peak of the Mahale range.
Katavi National Park is one of the continent's best kept big game secrets. The park is second only in Tanzania to the much larger Serengeti and Ruaha in terms of sheer volume of wildlife, with over 50 species of large mammal in serious numbers. In the dry season, dramatic herds of several thousand elephant or buffalo converge on the diminishing water and food supplies, and it's possible to see many hundreds of hippo cheek by jowl and fighting for space in the muddy shallows. In fact, the park has the greatest density of hippo and crocodile in Tanzania. The rains transform the park into a birder's paradise with over 400 species having been recorded.
"Greystoke Mahale: Magic from the first time you see it...
...Chada Katavi: We loved the wildness. Michael was ...stuck in the ... tent for 40 minutes one afternoon when an elephant mooched around outside"