Tanzania is a superb destination for primate encounters. The Mahale National Park has a significant chimpanzee population, and you can trek through the forest - past waterfalls and viewpoints overlooking Lake Tanganyika - to find them. The chimpanzee groups here are habituated and each individual is well known to the expert guides. During your hike you’ll learn all about their personal relationships, group politics, and temperaments, gaining fascinating insights into chimp society. The guides always know the approximate whereabouts of the chimps, so sightings at close quarters are guaranteed. You’ll hear the chimp calls echoing through the trees before you see them, then have plenty of time to sit and watch them play, groom, feed, and fight with one another.
For something a little different, consider a stay on Rubondo Island in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria. This incredible camp - the only property on the island - is within a pristine indigenous rainforest. 16 chimpanzee rescued from life in zoos were released here in the 1960s: it was the first-ever attempt to rehabilitate captive chimpanzee. The population has steadily returned to wild behaviour, and has more than doubled in size as a new generation has been born on Rubondo. They are far more shy than their habituated brethren at Mahale. Sightings are rare and special, but you will certainly hear them vocalising and see their treetop nests high above you in the forest canopy.
Combine your chimpanzee encounter with a safari in one of the stunning national parks in northern Tanzania. The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater are within easy reach of one another, and offer an unforgettable array of wildlife sightings. You will see the largest wildebeest and zebra herds in the Serengeti between January and March, and the concentration of animals at Ngorongoro is incredible whatever the time of the year. Spotting crater lion on the prowl will always be a highlight during any game drive, but did you know it is also possible to spot black rhino? Tanzanian cheetah, leopard, and African wild dog put in occasional appearances, too.