The park-like its northerly neighbour Gombe is home to some of Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees, a population of roughly 900, they are habituated to human visitors by a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s.
Tracking the chimps of Mahale is a magical experience.
Mahale is located in Western Tanzania to the South of Kigoma town, it is bordering Lake Tanganyika-the World’s longest, second deepest and least polluted freshwater lake-harbouring an estimated 1000 fish species.
Best time to visit the park
The dry season (May -October) is the best period. During this period, chimpanzees are likely to be seen in big groups, the sunshine illuminates the fish in the Lake and the beach is an inviting place to relax. However, Mahale Mountains National Park is accessible all year round. A visit in the rainy season can also be a memorable experience, made remarkable by views of the neighbouring country DR Congo across the water and by incredible lightning storms that light up the lake at night.
– The Chimpanzees
– Chain of Mountains (Mahale range)
– Forest fauna and flora (Angola colobus, red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, forest birds, alpine bamboo, montane rain forest etc).
– Beach along Lake Tanganyika
– Local fishermen
– Sunset on the Lake horizon
What to do
– Chimp tracking (allow two days)
– Hiking to the Park’s highest point “Nkungwe” (8,069ft) held sacred by the local Tongue people.
– Camping safaris
– Sports fishing and many more water sports activities
Mahale is accessible by air, road and boat. There are several flights, car and boat options to suit most travellers and chimps lovers:
Direct flights to Mahale
This is the easiest way to reach Mahale. During the peak tourist season (June to October) the three tour operators with camps in Mahale schedule regular flights between the park and Arusha town. Between October and March flights arrive and leave twice each week. Between March, April and the first half of May Camps close therefore there are no scheduled flights.
However, it is also possible for visitors to arrange their own charter flights. Tanzania has a large number of charter flight companies such as Air Excel, Northern Air and Regional Air to mention a few. Private charters can be arranged from major cities of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Mwanza or Zanzibar.
The airstrip at Mahale is suitable for light aircraft only with the capacity of up to 12 passengers.
Travel to Mahale via Kigoma
Kigoma can be reached via several routes:
– By Air: Air Tanzania schedules daily flights from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma. The flight takes about 3 hours.