The park is located in the western part of Tanzania, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Kigoma Region. Named after the Mahale Mountains within its borders, the park has few unusual characteristics. It is one of only two protected areas for chimpanzees in the country, with largest population of these primates known, due to its size and remoteness of its location.
Another unique specific of the park is that it is one of very few parks in Africa that must be explored only by foot. You will not find any roads or other infrastructural objects within the park boundaries, and the only way in and out of the park is by taking a boat on the lake. Mahale is also absolutelly the best place in the world for chimpanzee safaris!
Mahale Mountains is considered as one of the most beautiful national parks in whole ofAfrica. Its lakeshores consist of white sand beaches, towered by rising range of mountains, filled with bulging tropical vegetation. The park is not only beautiful, but is also a habitat of the densest population of primates in Tanzania: yellow baboon, red colobus, blue, red-tailed and vervet , and of course, the chimpanzees.
They go where they want and when they want, but are very relaxed near people, which makes it possible to track and observe them from very close range. For the protection of the chimps, all human visitors are required to wear surgical masks, which will be provided for you.
The hike to the encounter with chimpanzees can vary from 20 minutes stroll to a more demanding hiking that can last up to three hours. Towards the end of the dry season (August to October) chimpanzee safaris are probably easiest, because the forest trails would be driest and not that slippery, with the chimps usually closest to the shore. Walking boots, long pants and small backpack (for cameras and binoculars) are very useful for such safaris.
We cannot guarantee that you will see the chimps, but it’s normal to see them on most days, as you would be extremely unlucky to be here for several days and not find them. More likely, you’ll be able to watch them foraging, grooming, tussling, bickering and taking care of their offspring. Making close encounter with the chimpanzees in the forest, and getting familiar with their daily lives is what makes Mahale Mountains so amazing.
Getting to the Mahale Mountains
By light aircraft it takes four or five hours to reach here from Dar es Saalam or Arusha.