Mahale National Park is located on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. It was named after the Mahale mountain range that borders it.
The Mahale Mountains National Park was established in 1985 to protect the region’s thousands of chimps. Mahale National Park is home to Tanzania’s densest primate population.
Around 1,000 chimps live in the 1,650-square-kilometer national park. Other primates include the yellow baboon, red colobus, blue, red-tailed, and vervet monkeys.
The park’s habitats include rainforest, grasslands, alpine bamboo, and woodlands. Over 50 animal species have been recorded in the park, and over 90 distinct fish species swim in the lake’s clear waters. Within the park’s boundaries, there are no roads or other infrastructure. The only way in and out is by lake boat.
The chimps in Mahale number in the thousands. Since 1965, researchers have habituated to the Mimikire clan. It currently has 56 chimps. They are relaxed near people so they can be tracked and observed up close.
Walking safaris are conducted to see and observe these animals in their natural environment. To protect both the environment and the chimps, these interactions are strictly regulated.
Many other animals can be found in Mahale’s forests. These include the Colobus monkey, squirrel, porcupine, and mongoose.
The eastern slopes of Mahale habour elephant, lion, wild dog, roan antelope, buffalo, and giraffe populations. A variety of fish swims in the lake, including several species that are endemic to Tanganyika.
Trekking chimps is a popular activity in Mahale National Park. It requires following forest trails in search of a chimp family. Other primates seen while trekking includes vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, yellow baboons, plant species, and birds.
You are allowed to spend an hour with the chimps in their natural habitat once they are discovered. You will be able to learn more about their habits and behaviors. You will also observe them as they go about their daily activities like feeding and hunting.
By air- Scheduled flights from Arusha and Dar es Salaam (three to five hours) to the Mahale Airstrip are available. Charter flights are also available.
By car, It takes two to three days to drive from Arusha to Kigoma. The roads are rough and can become impassable during heavy rains.
By boat- There are speedboats (about 5 hours) and timber boats (up to 15 hours) from Kigoma to Mahale. The MV Liemba, a large steamship, travels twice a week from Kigoma (10 hours).
The Mahale Mountains National Park offers a variety of lodging options. They are well-equipped and divided into tented camps, bandas, and lodges.
They are mostly located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and offer stunning views of the lake.