If you are looking for something truly remote, yet wholly unique at the same time - then would tracking chimpanzees through a mountain forest appeal, combined with a stay in one of the most unspoilt and untouched National Parks in Tanzania appeal? If so... please read further!
You begin your trip with a night in Arusha. Depending on the time your flight lands into Kilimanjaro, this first night is either a necessity as you will be arriving late at night OR included so that you can relax and rest after an overnight flight, ready to start your safari adventure fresh the next morning.
You will be collected after an early breakfast and transferred to the small Arusha Airport, where you will board your light aircraft and depart for the 3 hour flight to Katavi National Park. Here, you will experience the ultimate 'off the beaten track' safari for 3 nights, getting close to large herds of hippos and crocodiles, or simply revelling in the large diversity of bird life in this vast area. Predators that may be seen include cheetah, wild dog, lion, leopard and hyena. Katavi has fewer visitors than any other Tanzania National Park, purely because of the distance you have to travel to get here.
You then head by light aircraft to the Mahale Mountain National Park. Here, you can trek to find chimpanzees, spend blissful afternoons on a private beach and finish the day by the campfire with the Milky Way above you.
For safari goers who have ticked off the Big 5, adding a chimpanzee encounter to the list and seeing them in their own environment is a wonderful experience. Whilst the chimps are wild animals, many of them are extremely used to humans - so much so, the encounters can be extremely close indeed! You are allowed to spend up to an hour with the chimps, but this is plenty of time to watch them grooming, playing, squabbling and feeding.
Mbali Mbali Mahale is set on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the world's second deepest lake, so as well as the chimps, you also have the opportunity to snorkel amongst 250 species of fish.
For those looking for a safari with a difference, this itinerary is certainly it!
Arrive into Kilimanjaro Airport. Go through Immigration, collect your luggage and clear Customs, then make your way to the Arrivals Hall, where you will be met by your transfer driver who will be holding a sign board with your name on it. You will then be transferred to the Arusha Serena Hotel.
Nestled at the foot of the wooded slopes of Mount Meru, the Arusha Serena Hotel stands amid coffee plantations overlooking the tranquil Lake Duluti. Designed to echo the traditional style of the colonial coffee farm, which originally stood on this site, the hotel offers a range of tastefully presented cottage-styled rooms set amid extensive landscaped grounds.
You will be collected early this morning and transferred to Arusha Airport, arriving in time to check in for your light aircraft flight to the Katavi National Park, which will depart around 07:30. The flight to Katavi from Arusha takes about 4 hours.
Mbali Mbali Air Charters (Light Aircraft): Fly from Arusha (ARK) to Katavi Airstrip - arrival and departure times to be confirmed
You will be met and transferred to your camp, arriving in time for lunch. Over the next few days, enjoy afternoon and morning guided game drives and other safari activities with other guests in search of the wildlife found here.
After an early breakfast, you will be transferred back to the airstrip for your flight to Mahale. The flight will take about 90 minutes.
Mbali Mbali Air Charters (Light Aircraft): Fly from Katavi Airstrip to Mahale Airstrip - arrival and departure times to be confirmed
On arrival, you will be met and transferred by boat to the camp, where you can relax over lunch. After lunch, you can explore the area and enjoy the surroundings, before waking refreshed and ready for your next 3 full days here - whether it be trekking every day in the mountains to find the chimpanzees, or swimming and snorkelling in Lake Tanganyika. The activities for each day can be discussed with the manager upon arrival.