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Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park Travel Guide

The Mahale Mountains National Park is situated on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika in remote western Tanzania. It’s spectacularly beautiful, with the backdrop of the Mahale Mountains and lush, tropical flora. The main attraction is walking safaris to observe the chimpanzees who live here. They share their forest paradise with a range of other primates, mammals and beautiful birds.

Mahale Mountains national park is located in western Tanzania. It is south of the city of Kigoma, and got its name from the Mahale Mountains. These mountains are one of only two protected areas for chimpanzees in Tanzania and the chimpanzee population is the largest known. It is the only place where chimpanzees and lions co-exist. Mahale Mountains national park sits among the spectacular, forested mountain slopes. The protection of the thousands of chimpanzees that inhabit the region was originally and main reason to create the park.

Chimpanzees in Mahale Mountains

The park (like its northerly neighbor Gombe) is home to some of the Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees, a population of roughly 900, they are habituated to human visitors. As the chimpanzees are susceptible to many human diseases, strict rules apply to the safe conduct of primate safaris in Tanzania. Don’t miss out on this adventure! And spend time during your hike through the Mahale mountains national park searching for the chimpanzees. The hikes are led by knowledgeable and experienced guides. You will meet the resident chimpanzee group and have time to observe them. Meeting the chimpanzees is a once in a lifetime, magical experience!

Other highlights of the National park

Mahale Mountains national park is also famous for its fantastic sunsets over Lake Tanganyika, which makes it an essential stop for keen photographers and safari enthusiasts. Another unusual feature of the park is that it is one of the few in Africa where you will be walking, as there are no roads within the park boundaries. The only way in and out of the park is by boat across the lake.

Wildlife in the Mahale national park

The park’s breathtaking array of habitats include rainforest, grasslands, alpine bamboo and woodlands. You can find over 50 species of animals here. Predominant among these being representatives from various monkey and ape families. And over 100 unique species of fish swim in the clear waters of the lake.

HIGHLIGHTS OF MAHALE

  • Chimpanzee walking safaris
  • Prolific flora, plenty of primates and other animals
  • Birdwatcher’s paradise
  • Beach-living on the white sands beside the crystal water of the lake
  • Spectacularly beautiful and remote, ensuring an uncrowded experience
  • Snorkelling in Lake Tanganyika with over 250 species of fish unique to the lake!
  • Hikes up Mount Nkugwe, Mahale’s highest peak
  • Cultural visits to local villages

Things to see and do in Mahale Mountain National Park

  • Tracking chimpanzee
  • Snorkelling
  • Camping safaris
  • Forest walks
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Hiking up Mount Nkungwe
  • Birdwatching
  • Best time to visit

    Mahale Mountains National Park can be visited throughout the year. The best time to visit is in the long dry season from July to October when the chimpanzees tend to gather in bigger groups, closer to shore. You should still be able to see them in the wet season, it may just require a little more walking.

    During the wet season, spectacular thunderstorms over the lake delight visitors! Some camps, however, close during the big rains.

    Getting there

    Mahale is remote which makes it uncrowded. The easiest and quickest way to get there is by air.

    By air – During peak season from June to October, regular scheduled flights from Arusha and Dar es Salaam (three to five hours) to the Mahale Airstrip are available. Out of season, flights are less regular. Charter flights can also be arranged.

    By road – The roads are rough and can be inaccessible, especially during rains. From Arusha to Kigoma (from where you’ll need to take a boat or plane), it takes about two to three days by car.

    By boat – From Kigoma, there are speedboats (four to six hours) and timber boats (up to 15 hours) to Mahale. Twice a week, the MV Liemba, a large steamship, travels from Kigoma (10 hours).

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