Tanzania Safari Guide to Mahale Mountains National Park

Chimpanzee
A chimpanzee safari in the remote Mahale Mountains is an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Only accessible by small aircraft and boat the Mahale Mountains National Park is road-free park making the experience that much more memorable.

Mahale Chimpanzees

Home to 700 - 1000 wild chimpanzees - some of the last remaining in Africa - the Mahale Mountains National Park is one of the most remote and beautiful locations in Tanzania. Situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Tanganyika the park covers an area of 1613 kmē on the western border with the Congo.

Research and amazing discoveries

chimpanzee browsing for foodResearchers from Kyoto University in Japan have been studying wild chimpanzees in Mahale since 1965. By observing the chimpanzees in natural conditions, researchers have learnt a great deal about their ecology, social structure and behavior. The chimpanzees' use of tools and medicinal plants have been the outstanding discoveries in Mahale as these behaviours were previously attributed only to human beings.

Mahale is mostly hilly and is dominated by the Mahale Mountains that run from the northwest to the southeast of the park. The vegetation is mainly Miombo woodlands that are dissected by narrow strips of riverine forest. The total number of plant species recorded in Mahale Mountains National Park is 1174. Mahale is a unique combination of forests, mountains and lake.

Mahale activities

Besides the chimpanzees Mahale also offers other incredible attractions to travellers - mountain climbing, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking and enjoying the beautiful white sandy beaches.

Tourists can climb the highest peak in the Mahale Mountains ridge which is Mount Nkungwe 2462m above sea level. It takes 2-3 days to reach the summit and has spectacular views. The best time for climbing in during the dry season - May through to October.

Visits to nearby Kigoma - the capital and economic centre - and Ujiji are popular stops. Ujiji is the site of the famous meeting on October 28, 1871 when Henry Stanley found Dr. David Livingstone, and reputedly uttered the famous words 'Dr. Livingstone, I presume?'

Wildlife of Mahale

Walking in the lowland forests guests will have close encounters with birds and animals which include chimpanzees, giant forest squirrel, red-legged sun squirrel, brush-tailed porcupine, Angolan black-and-white colobus monkeys, bushy-tailed mongoose, banded mongoose, blue duiker and Sharpe's grysbok.

There are nine species of non-human primates which includes the habituated group of chimpanzees. Roan antelopes, sable antelopes and Lichtenstein hartebeest are seen in the woodlands. Lions, warthogs, zebra and giraffes may also be seen in the park on accasions. 82 mammal species and 355 bird species have been recorded in the park.

Seasons of Mahale

A Chimpanzee in the Mahale Mountains National Park. There are two seasons in Mahale Mountains National Park. During both seasons, temperatures can fluctuate, particularly between day and night. The dry season (mid-May to mid-October) maximum mean temperature of 31°C is the best period in which to visit the park. The chimps are usually seen in big groups and the beach is stunning and inviting. The rainy season holds incredible lightning storms over the lake. Mahale Mountains National Park is accessible all year round.

Getting to Mahale

There are direct flights from Arusha to Mahale. Scheduled flights operate throughout the year barring March, April and beginning of May. Travellers can charter flights with Regional Air, Excel Air and Northern Air from Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar to Mahale.

Mahale can be accessed via Kigoma. Precision Air has daily flights from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma. From Kigoma, Mahale can be reached by boat or by light aircraft. Mahale is 45 minutes from Kigoma by light aircraft and transport by speedboat will take four to six hours to reach the park. By road it will take two to three days travel from Arusha to Kigoma and a 4w drive vehicle would be essential.

A precious resource

Chimpanzees are a precious resource for Tanzania. The money that tourists pay to visit Mahale's habituated chimpanzees makes an important contribution to both the conservation of the species and the national revenue of Tanzania.See more Chimpanzee Safaris in Tanzania
African Safaris Guide to South and East Africa
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