In Tanzania’s Mahale Mountains National Park, amazing wildlife encounters are almost guaranteed.

I was prepared for the beauty and the remoteness of Mahale Mountains National Park, but the fantastic proximity to the chimps was an unexpected bonus. After climbing up the steep hillsides for over an hour, in the hot forest, my guide suddenly stopped and pointed upwards to some chimps sitting high above us.

We watched them for a while – this was the sort of chimpanzee encounter I had anticipated. We then turned to move on, when suddenly a dark figure brushed past me on the narrow trail, then two more.

Standing motionless, I realized there was a group of about five chimps less than two metres ahead of us in a small clearing – several grooming, one resting and a baby clinging to its mother and looking at us with bright us. They didn’t seem bothered at all by our presence.

The longer we watched them, the more completely natural it began to feel that they and we were together in the forest.

By Mary Fitzpatrick
United States US

Mary is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including South Africa, Tanzania, East Africa and Africa.

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