tanganyika lake mahale mountains tanzania africa

Mahale Mountains National Park

The Mahale Mountains National Park is the home of the last wild chimpanzees of Africa: their number reaches about 800 specimens.
They are used to the presence of visitors thanks to a Japanese research project born in the 1960s. Following the movement of the Mahale monkeys is a magical experience.
You can watch the butterflies fly under the sunlight.
The area is also known as "Nkungwe" and is considered sacred by the local Tongwe tribe.
The highest mountain in the Mahale massif reaches 2,460 m.
Chimpanzees are the main attraction of these areas, but you can also find other animal species, such as numerous groups of red colobines, white-nosed vervet, diademus vervet, baboons and a multitude of birds with colorful plumage.

Peculiarities of Mahale Mountains Nazional Park:

  • it is possible to find other animal species in the Park, such as: elephants, buffalo, lions, giraffes, bushpigs and porcupines;
  • there is a great quantity of these species of birds: African snipe, green pyro-pyro, and cappellaccia;
  • in the Lake Tanganyika live about 250 species of fish thanks to its clean waters.

What to do

Canoe or boat safaris, diving and snorkeling, fishing, climbing, walking, low cost safaris (budget safaris), camping.

Position

It covers an area of 1,613 km² and is located 120 km south of the city of Kigoma.
The park is halfway between the Lake Tanganyika and the Gombe Stream National Park.

Getting There

The Mahale is accessible by plane, car and boat.
There are several options of flights, cars and boats to satisfy most travelers and lovers of chimpanzees:

Flights

This is the easiest way to reach Mahale. Between March, April and the first half of May the fields are closed so there are no scheduled flights. Private charters can be organized from the main cities of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Mwanza or Zanzibar. The Mahale landing strip is only suitable for light aircrafts with a maximum capacity of 12 passengers.

From Kigoma to Mahale

The Mahale can be reached by boats, light aircrafts and cars.
Speedboats and boats leaving Kigoma can be booked through the Park or Kigoma tour operators.
It takes between 4 and 5 hours by motorboats to reach the park, while the boats take 15 hours or more.
The Mahale can be reached from Kigoma in 45 minutes by light aircraft.
Various companies that organize safaris offer private charter flights from Kigoma to Mahale and also to other parks in Western Tanzania.
To arrive by land you have to drive 2 hours from Kigoma to Suda.

When to Go

The dry season runs from May to October and is the best time to visit the park and hike in the forest. It is also the only period of the year when camping in tents is allowed.
The period of the Little Rains is from November to December and does not create problems for visitors.
The rainy season runs from mid-October to mid-May.

Where to Stay

Park facilities
There are five bandas used by tourists; the bandas are suitable for cheap trips and for students.

Private facilities
At the moment there are three luxury tented camps inside the park.

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