MAHALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
A stunning park featuring mist-covered forested mountains cascading down to the lake Tanganyika’s crystal-clear waters teeming with fish lapping against white sand coves.
REASONS TO VISIT MAHALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Mahale is probably the best place in the world for chimp safaris with around 1,700 Chimpanzees in the park.
Mahale doesn’t get crowded with tourists, the only way to get to the park is via boat or plane. Experience a true getaway with the lake,forest and mountains.
Low Tourist Traffic
Mahale is not as popular as some of the other widely famous parks in Tanzania meaning that it has barely been affected by human activity. The remoteness and the stillness are wonderful.
The park offers a myriad of activities from snorkelling, kayaking, walking safaris, trekking, mountain climbing and many more.
Three in one
Mahale mountains national park contains a forest brimming with wildlife, a lake with powder white beaches and a mountain with breathtaking views.
There are more than 82 mammal species in Mahale, at least 322 bird species and 26 amphibian& reptile species. It also harbours Tanzania’s densest population of primates.
Mahale Mountains National Park lies on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Kigoma Region, western Tanzania. It can only be accessed by boat or plane. It also protects 1.6km strip of Lake Tangayika.
Accommodation at Mahale Mountains National Park is limited to a few lodges and camps.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Numerous fun activities such as walking safaris, hiking, village trips, trekking, kayaking & mountain climbing are available in the Mahale Mountains National Park.
Very different from anything else in Tanzania, and totally magical. Mahale is also probably the best place in the world for chimp safaris!
The lakeshore, a range of imposing mountains, tropical vegetation, streams & forest alive with sound. “Quite simply one of the most beautiful parks anywhere in Africa”. It teaches us about man’s place in nature.
ABOUT THE MAHALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Famous for containing some of the last remaining wild chimpanzees in Africa, the Mahale Mountains National Park was gazetted in 1985, covers an area of 1 613 km² and is located about 128 km south of Kigoma town on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The western boundary of the park protects an adjacent 1.6 km wide strip of Lake Tanganyika’s waters.
Japanese primate researchers began exploring along the shore of Lake Tanganyika, south of Kigoma as early as 1961. In 1965, the researchers established their first camp, ‘Kansyana’, in Mahale and began habituating chimpanzees.
The land in and around Mahale is the traditional homeland of the Watongwe and Waholoholo tribes. When the Mahale Mountains Wildlife Research Center was established in 1979 these people were expelled from the mountains to make way for the park, which opened in 1985. The people had been highly attuned to the natural environment, living with virtually no impact on the ecology.
The terrain is mostly rugged and hilly, and is dominated by the Mahale Mountains chain that runs from the northwest to the southeast across the park. The highest peak (Mount Nkungwe) rises to 2 462 m above sea level.
In Mahale, the chimpanzees are the star attraction. There are roughly 800 chimps in the park, of which about 60 individuals are very habituated to people. The research and habituation in Mahale is a Japanese project that goes back as long as Jane Goodall's research in neighboring Gombe NP.
SCENERY & REMOTENESS
The park is a chain of wild, jungle-draped peaks clad in verdant tropical vegetation. towering almost 2km above the shore of the azure water of Lake Tanganyika. The lake is fringed by white sandy beaches. Big electric-blue butterflies flit above the streams and the forest is alive with sound.
Mahale's chimp are the main attraction, but the park supports a diverse forest fauna, including readily observed troops of red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkey, and many colourful forest birds. Elephants, giraffes and even lions wander around the eastern slopes of the mountain.
Best things to see in Mahale Mountain National Park | do in Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale's lowland forest is found on the western slopes of the Mahale Mountains and along the lakeshore, stretching for 7 km from the Myako Valley to the Lubulungu River. The lowland forest allows close encounters with a vast array of birds and animals, including a group of habituated chimpanzees.
Lake Tanganyika contains more than 250 species of fish found nowhere else on Earth, many of which can be viewed by snorkelling in the shallows along Mahale’s shoreline. In between chimp tracking expeditions, Lake Tanganyika beckons for kayaking and hippo- and crocodile-spotting forays.
There are a number of things you can do in Mahale. Mountain climbing, trekking, hiking, chimp spotting, snorkelling, kayaking, boat rides and sport fishing on the fresh waters of Lake Tanganyika is possible under special licences available to visitors. Simply getting to Mahale itself is an adventure.
- An ascent of the highest peak in the Mahale Mountains ridge, Mt. Nkungwe, is one of the most spectacular activities available to tourists. It takes 2-3 days to reach the summit, and the best time for climbing is during the dry season (May – October). Whilst camping on the mountain at night, it is often possible to see the spectacle of 'fishing fire', as the kerosene lamps carried by small fishing boats light up across the Lake.
Cultural tourism activities entailing visits to the nearby villages can also be arranged. Kigoma town and the historical town Ujiji are worth a detour. Kigoma is the capital of the Kigoma District and the economic centre of the region. Ujiji is a historical town dating back to the days of German colonial rule in Tanganyika. In the 19th century, Dr. Livingstone travelled to Ujiji in a bid to stop the slave trade.
Walking safaris in the beautiful, lowland forest allow close encounters with a vast array of birds and animals, including a group of habituated chimpanzees. The opportunity to track chimps in their natural habitat is Mahale's foremost tourist attraction. The hike to reach the Mahale chimpanzees can vary from a leisurely wander of 20 minutes to a more strenuous hike lasting up to three hours.
WHERE TO STAY : lodges | Camps
Mahala Mountains National Park accommodation options are limited in terms of choice, the options available are mainly lodges/camps. They are luxurious, comfortable, safe and offer a variety of fun activities for individuals, couples, families or groups travelling together. If you have any questions about accommodation in Mahale, simply contact us and let one of our safari experts help you find the ideal place to stay.
Kungwe Beach Lodge
Greystoke Mahale Lodge
BEST TIME TO VISIT
It is possible to track chimpanzees all year long in Mahale Mountains, however, chances of finding them improve towards the end of the Dry season (from July to October) when the chimps favour the lower slopes. If you have 2 or 3 days, your chance of seeing them is reasonable at any time of the year.
Best time to go:
July to October
July to October (Crowds in Mahale are rare)
April and May (Most lodges are closed)
June to October (Almost no rainfall)
November to April (Wet season)