MAHALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
It boasts the finest blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeological sites
Famous for containing some of the last remaining wild chimpanzees in Africa, the Mahale Mountains National Park was gazetted in 1985, covers an area of 1’613 sq km and is located about 128 km south of Kigoma town on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The western boundary of the park protects an adjacent 1.6 km wide strip of Lake Tanganyika’s waters. The land in and around Mahale is the traditional homeland of the Watongwe and Waholoholo tribes. Japanese primate researchers began exploring along the shore of Lake Tanganyika, south of Kigoma as early as 1961. In 1965, the researchers established their first camp, ‘Kansyana’, in Mahale and began habituating chimpanzees. The terrain is mostly rugged and hilly, and is dominated by the Mahale Mountains chain that runs from the northwest to the southeast across the park. The highest peak (Mount Nkungwe) rises to 2 462 m above sea level. Mahale offers a number of outstanding attractions for visitors, from tracking wild habituated chimpanzees, to mountain climbing, snorkeling, fishing, kayaking and relaxing on deserted, pristine, white, sandy beaches.
Over 60 chimps live in the Mahale Mountains and have become habituated to human presence over 2 decades of contact. There is also the opportunity to observe leopard, bushbuck, bush pig and a multitude of birds and butterflies. The forest itself is unique in that is houses 8 other species of primate, shyer forest mammals, birds, butterflies, giant vines and waterfalls. There is the opportunity to explore the clear waters of Lake Tanganyika, which is said to contain about 1000 different species of fish, including 250 species of cichlid (colourful tropical fish). This enormous lake is suitable for fishing, snorkelling and kayaking, activities which are offered at the various accommodations. Tracking the primates is the most sought after activity at Mahale, particularly the endangered chimpanzee. A trek through the rainforest takes guests to Mahale’s chimpanzees. Guests can sit quietly and watch the chimps go about their daily lives; grooming, wrestling, bickering, foraging and mothering.