Mahale Mountains National Park
Step well and truly off the beaten track with a tailor-made safari to the remote Mahale Mountains National Park on the tranquil shores of Lake Tanganyika. The forested slopes of the Mahale Mountains are one of the best places to go chimpanzee trekking in Tanzania, and a close encounter with these intriguing primates is one of the most intimate experiences you can enjoy in all of Africa.
About Mahale Mountains National Park
Tucked away on the edge of Lake Tanganyika in western of Tanzania, Mahale Mountains National Park is 1,613 km² and one of the best places in Africa to track chimpanzees. The Mahale Mountains are one of two protected areas for chimpanzees in Tanzania, with the other being Gombe Stream National Park. Mahale Mountains is also one of the only places in the world where chimpanzees, elephants and lions can be found living side by side.
Historically, the park has played an important role in understanding more about our closest relatives. Their calm manner around humans today is due in no small part to the work of scientists in years gone by. The first research centre in the Mahale Mountains was established in 1961 and the area later became a national park.
While primates are the main attraction, there is much more to safaris in the Mahale Mountains National Park than chimps. Thick tropical rain forest that bursts from the ground and rises up the slopes of the imposing mountainside is what gives the park its character. Just metres from the forest edge are pristine beaches that skirt the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The aesthetic is that of a paradise island on which days can be lost relaxing in the shade of a fruiting tree or bathing in the lake’s tropical waters. Access is only achievable by boat and there are no roads within the park. This means land-based activities are all done on foot.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Mahale Mountains National Park
The chimpanzee population in the Mahale Mountains is one of the biggest in the world with over 1,600 individuals, and the main reason visitors come to the park is to go chimpanzee trekking. The 50 chimps that make up the Mimikere clan or ‘M-group’ are the most habituated of all of the Mahale Mountain’s chimpanzees. They are particularly renowned for being very relaxed in the presence of humans, and it really is a privilege to spend time in their company as they forage, hunt and play.
The best time to go chimpanzee trekking in the Mahale Mountains is during the dry months between June and October because this is when the chimps tend to form larger groups, giving a greater opportunity to witness interactions.
Mahale Mountains National Park Wildlife Safaris
There is a variety of other primate species in the Mahale Mountains, such as red colobus, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, yellow baboons, bush babies and vervet monkeys. As well as primates, other animals seen on a luxury safari in Mahale Mountains include sable and roan antelope, warthog, mongoose and very occasionally elephant, lion and leopard.
Other activities on a tailor-made Mahale Mountains holiday include snorkelling in and kayaking on Lake Tanganyika. If you want to stretch your legs, the highest point of nearby Mount Nkungwe sits at over 8,000 feet, and the summit is reachable with two days of light climbing and camping along the route for a true wilderness adventure.
Bird Watching in Mahale Mountains National Park
Recorded species in the Mahale Mountains National Parked exceed 350, and include Livingstone’s turaco, Ross’s turaco and the Narina trogon among others. Pied, malachite and even the rarer giant kingfisher are all present in the Mahale Mountains too, as well as a variety of birds of prey like the African fish eagle, palm-nut vultures and even crowned eagles.
Best Places to Stay in Mahale Mountains National Park
There are one or two stunnign rustic luxury stays on the lakeshore such as Mahale Lodge and Greystoke Mahale. Trekking to see the chimpanzees can be done from either camp as can indulging in pure rest and relaxation overlooking the lake.
Best Time to Visit Mahale Mountains National Park
Chimpanzee trekking is best between June and October. These are Tanzania’s drier months and trekking within the forest of the Mahale Mountains is slightly easier. This period is also the best time to visit nearby parks such as Katavi National Park.
During the wetter months between November - May, families of chimps may be a little harder to find. As a result, treks may be longer and sightings are slightly less likely. Trails can become muddier and more difficult to navigate.
Weather During the Year
How to Book a Mahale Mountains National Park Safari Holiday
To discuss your Tanzania safari holiday, Mahale Mountains safari packages and tailor-made itineraries, speak to one of our Tanzania experts today by contacting us.