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Mahale National Park

Incomparable Luxurious Safaris to Africa's Top Wildlife Viewing Parks

From deep within the green heart of Africa rise the mysterious Mahale Mountains, a global biodiversity hotspot. You will find no better place to encounter wild chimps and a wide variety of other species, many of which are only found here.

When Stanley spoke those famous words “Doctor Livingstone, I presume”, he was only 100 km north of here. And Livingstone could not have picked a better place to hide. Picture rugged jungle covered peaks towering almost two kilometres above you, only to plunge into the deep blue water and white beaches of Lake Tanganyika. True eye-candy that is still a secret to most people.

The area is dubbed Nkungwe after the park’s largest mountain, held sacred by the local Tongwe people. It is dominated by mountains and forest with a huge variety of plants. No less than 1,200 species have been recorded, but the actual number is estimated around 2,000. And it is right here, in this elevated jungle, that you will find the most numerous and varied primates - ten different species in the entire country.

Mahale is true eye—candy that is still a secret to most people

The thrilling highlight of your visit is chimpanzee tracking. Every trace of dung or half-eaten fruit pulling you further into the jungle. While Gombe hosts chimps too, Mahale is undisputedly ‘the best place for an encounter. The park is home to Africa’s eastern most population of wild chimpanzee, with about 600 individuals in 15 groups. They have been fully habituated to human visitors after a Japanese research project in the 1960’s.

Other primates whose shrieks echo from the slopes are the red and Angola colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys and yellow baboon. But there’s more to a visit than just monkeys.

Alongside the western shore tame warthogs and bush pigs wander around, with the occasional giraffe or even the rare roan and sable antelope to spice things up. With Katavi National Park less than 100 km away, several mammals are believed to roam between Mahale and its neighbour. Butterflies sprinkle the park with colour, while bird species such as the bamboo warbler and Stuhlman’s starling are seen nowhere else in Tanzania.

The thrilling highlight of your visit is chimpanzee tracking

The incredibly clear Lake Tanganyika adds aquatic biodiversity. It is the second deepest and largest fresh water lake of the world, possibly containing one sixth of all freshwater on earth. While the lake harbours an estimated 1,000 fish species, it is also the only Tanzanian nature reserve where both the Nile crocodile and the slender-snouted crocodile feel at home.

  •  Mahale Mountains National Park was established in 1984. - It covers 1613 km2 and stretches 60 km from north-west to
  • South - east. - Height: 773 - 2,462 m (Mt Nkungwe). The chain of mountains divides the park in two. - The average temperatures around the lake are 26- 30 °C (daytime, sometimes up to 35 °C) and 15—18 °C (night-time); much lower up in the mountains.
  •  Dry season: mid—May — October — November, wet season: November – mid - May (less rainy in January - February); no seasonal changes in the forest. - Best time to visit: June - October, which is best for forest walks (although the light rains of October — November should be fine too).
  •  Mahale is one of the most remote parks, only accessible by boat or air
  • By boat: Take MV Liemba to the village of Mgambo (8—10 hours) on Wednesday, return on Saturday followed by 20 km trip to Bilenge, take a local taxi (2 days) we provide fast boat (3 hours) directly to Mahale .
  • By air: scheduled flights from Arusha to Bilenge HQ (most frequent in June — October), we organise private flights from Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

What to do

Swimming, snorkelling, diving, boat trips for bird watching, sport fishing, guide chimpanzee tracking in the forest and guided mountain hiking of one day up to seven — it only takes a day to conquer the 2,100 meters of the second highest mountain of the park, Mt Mhesabantu. Or take an adventurous history lesson, by tracing the Tongwe people’s ancient pilgrimage to the mountain spirits, before you cool off in the fascinating clean water of the lake.

NOTE: Strict rules are in place to safeguard both you and the chimps. Allow yourself at least two days to go looking for them; Mahale is not a zoo so encounters cannot be guaranteed.

Mahale National Park