Mahale Mountains National Park

WESTERN CIRCUIT – TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS

Mahale Mountains National Park

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 by a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s. Tracking the chimps of Mahale is a magical experience.

Mahale is located in the Western Tanzania to the South of Kigoma town, it is bordering Lake Tanganyika-the World’s longest, second deepest and least polluted freshwater lake-harbouring an estimated 1000 fish species.

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Mahale is also home to some of the last remaining strongholds of chimpanzees in Africa. In isolated rainforest some 1,000 of these fascinating primates roam the hills and valleys. A trip to see the chimpanzees is a magical experience as your guide leads you deep in the forest, indicating last night’s nests, scraps of half-eaten fruit and fresh dung. Suddenly you are amongst a family of them – preening each other’s glossy coats in concentrated huddles, squabbling noisily or bounding and swinging effortlessly through the trees and vines.

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Other primates found in the Park are baboons and Colobus monkeys; and other animal species include elephant, buffalo, lion, giraffe, bushpig, and porcupine.

About Mahale Mountains National Park

Size
Covers an area of 1,613 sq km. Lies 120 km south of Kigoma at Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

Location
The Park is halfway up Lake Tanganyika and south of Gombe Stream National Park. The Mahale Mountain chain runs from the northwest across the middle of the Park. The highest peak is Mt Nkungwe at 2,460 m. This is the highest of 6 prominent points that make up the Mahale mountain range which runs alongLake Tanganyika.

Activities

  • For chimpanzee tracking you should allow yourselves at least 2 days, as the chimps are not always easy to locate.
  • Fishing is an option for those interested.
  • Or even snorkelling in Lake Tanganyika.
  • Or bird watching in the forest or the shore of the lake

What to do

  • Chimp tracking (allow two days)
  • Hiking to the Park’s highest point “Nkungwe” (8,069ft) held sacred by the local Tongwe people.
  • Camping safaris
  • Snorkeling
  • Sports fishing and many more water sports activities

When to go
The dry season (May -October) is the best period. During this period, chimpanzees are likely to be seen in big groups, the sunshine illuminates the fish in the Lake and the beach is an inviting place to relax. However, Mahale Mountains National Park is accessible all year round. A visit in the rainy season can also be a memorable experience, made remarkable by views of the neighbouring country DR Congo across the water and by incredible lightning storms that light up the lake at night.