Fairend Safaris

Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park is situated in the western region of Tanzania on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Although it is well known for being home to chimpanzees, other primates like red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, yellow baboons, and blue monkeys among others can be found in this park.  

This park covers an area of 1613 square kilometers and was first established as a research camp in 1965. Later it was gazetted as a national park in 1985 and the most uniqueness about it is its remoteness. In addition Mahale National Park is a park in Africa that is explored on foot since there are no roads or other infrastructure within the park boundaries.

How to get there

Mahale National Park can be accessed by both road and air means. It is remotely located therefore travelers can always select the means which suits them best.

By road, travelers can access the park from Arusha as their point of entry. It takes approximately two days to get to the park from Arusha since it is 815km away.

By air, travelers can use domestic airlines like air excel, regional air and northern air which operate scheduled flights from Arusha and Dar es Salaam to Mahale airstrip from there you can access the park.

Activities to do in Mahale National Park

Chimpanzee trekking

Chimpanzee trekking is the main activity done in this park. Travelers get to trek on foot deep into the forest in search of the habituated chimpanzees.  Trekking chimps usually starts early in the morning and it’s done in the company of a trained guide.  A guide or ranger briefs guests about the activity and provides them with all the necessary information.

After locating chimps, trekkers spend one hour in their presence learning about their behaviors, watching them feed, playing among others. Most importantly,  all travelers must wear masks in order not to transmit any disease to the primates since they are prone to human diseases.

Bird watching

Mahale Mountains National Park is one of the birding destinations in Tanzania. It is home to over 350 bird species including permanent residents, forest birds and migratory birds. Some of the bird species are; crested malimbe, giant kingfisher, starlings, crowned eagle, scaly francolin, bamboo warbler, Ross’s turaco, trumpeter hornbill and crested Guinea fowl among others.

Birding is done with the company of a trained birding guide who helps birders allocate the trails to follow and the bird species. The best time for birding is from November to April when migratory birds are present in the park.

Hiking

Mahale National Park has the highest peak which is Mount Nkungwe which is 2462 meters high. Adventurous travelers may engage in mountain climbing which takes about 2 to 3 days to reach the summit. Guests are able to do camping at night and view spectacle fishing fire when the kerosene lamps carried by the fishing boats light up across the lake. Hiking requires some level of fitness and hikers are required to carry their own camping gear and food.

Animal Viewing

Some animals live on the slopes of Mahale Mountains which travelers can see when they visit. Some are primates and mammals including wild dogs, roan antelopes, elephants, buffalos, giraffes, bush backs, water backs, and lions. Primates that can be seen in Mahale slopes include red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, yellow baboons, and blue monkeys among others.

Sport fishing

Sport fishing is yet another activity done at Lake Tanganyika where anglers are required to acquire a permit before engaging in this activity. This activity usually begins at 8 am and ends at 5 pm. Travelers are required to carry their fishing gear and the catch and release method is what is used. On Lake Tanganyika, travelers can also participate in snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, and boat cruising when they visit Mahale National Park.

Where to stay 

There is a range of accommodation facilities to select from when visiting Mahale National Park. These include Kungwe Beach Lodge, Mahale Mango Bandas, Katavi Wildlife Camp, Greystoke Mahale Camp, and Mbali Mbali Mahale Lodge among others.

Best time to visit Mahale national park

Mahale National Park can be visited throughout the year however, the best time to visit is during the dry season from July to October there is less rainfall or no rainfall making trails passable when trekking chimpanzees and the risk of getting mosquito bites that cause malaria is less since there are few mosquitos in the park and the dry season is the best time to relax at the beach.