Mahale Mountains national park
Mahale Mountains national park is a fascinating Tanzania wildlife safaris destination famously chimpanzee tracking, this magical Tanzania safari destination is located in western Tanzania and lies on the shores of Lake Tanganyika with Kigoma as the closest major city. Mahale Mountains park is covers an area of 1613 square kilometers and it is situated in a remote area in a distance of 130 kilometers north of Mahale, the topography of the park is dominated by Mahale range. Mahale range is a stretch of the rift valley escarpment that rises sharply from the shore of Lake Tanganyika to the Nkungwe peak standing at the altitude of 2,462 meters above the sea level and other 6 peaks that exceed 2,000 meters above the sea level.
Mahale Mountains are mountain range located in western Tanzania on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, Mahale mountains comprises of several huge peaks and steep slopes covered with montane and middle altitude forests. Peaks on Mahale Mountains include Mount Nkungwe standing at the altitude of 2, 462 meters, Mhesabantu at 2,100 meters, Sisaga at 2,335 meters, Humo, Sibindi, Mfitwa and Pasagulu peaks. The landscape of the park also comprises of crystal clear-water and deserted sandy beaches that are part of Lake Tanganyika a scenically reminiscent of volcanic island beach resort.
Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake and the second deepest lake in the world with a depth of about 1,470 meters, Lake Tanganyika is also the second largest lake by volume and the world’s longest fresh water lake.
Mahale Mountains national park derives its name from Mahale mountains, these mountains were traditionally residence for the Batongwe and Holoholo people, in 1979 when Muhale mountains Wildlife Research Center was established, these people were expelled from the mountains and in 1985 the park was opened.
Mahale Mountains park is a famous habitat for chimpanzees sheltering a population of over 1,000 chimpanzees living in chimpanzee families including Mimikere group, a habituated of over 60 individuals.
Mahale Mountains national park protects and inhabits a variety of animal species a reason to why it is a famous Tanzania wildlife tours destination, the main animal species and attraction of the park is the chimpanzees habiting in the montane forests of the park. Chimpanzees in Mahale Mountains national park are over 1000 individuals and are some of the habituation chimpanzee population remaining in the world. Chimpanzees in Mahale Mountains park live in groups of 15 individuals and the biggest chimpanzee group is Mimikere group comprising of 60 individuals.
There are also other primates and animals found in Mahale Mountains park and these include 8 primate species such as yellow baboons, red colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, nocturnal lesser greater galagos and vervet monkeys. Mammal species include elephants, roan antelopes, buffaloes, giraffes, bush backs, waterbucks, lion, wild dogs and many more.
Mahale Mountains national park is also a great destination for Tanzania birding safari protecting and habiting over 350 bird species, these birds include hornbills, giant kingfisher, crested guineafowl, African fish eagles, Ross’s turaco and many more.
Safari activities in Mahale Mountains national park
Chimpanzee trekking is the highlight safari activities offered in Mahale Mountains national park, this safari activity offers an encounter with on the of the world’s largest population of chimpanzees remaining. Mahale national park is a remarkable destination for Tanzania chimpanzee safaris, this activity start with briefing at the park’s headquarters and in a group of 6 people you while through the mountainous terrain of the park to meet the chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee trekking in Mahale national park offers one hour in the presence of the chimpanzees and trekkers are free to take pictures, in case one hour is not enough, a provision of 3 hours is offered and an extra fee of US$ 100 is paid. Tanzania chimpanzee safari in Mahale Mountains national park is best done in the period of July to October.
Mahale national park is an ideal Tanzania destination for mountain hiking safaris, this safari is one of the most adventurous and incredible safari experience leading tourists to Mount Nkungwe the highest peak of Mahale mountains standing at the altitude of 2462 meters. Hiking mount Nkungwe takes about3 days, 2 days to reach the peak and 1 day for descending with camping in the midway and again near the peak.
While Mountain hiking, hikers are advised to carry their own camping gears and food and the best time to climb this mountain is during the period of May – October.
Sport fishing in Mahale Mountains national park is a group bonding experience done on Lake Tanganyika, the lake has many designated fishing spots where this activity is done. Sport fishing in Mahale Mountains national park are done from 7: 00 am – 5 pm and tourist are advised to perchase sport fishing permits as allowance to participate in the experience.
Boat safari in Mahale Mountains national park is one of the memorable activities offered in Lake Tanganyika, boat safaris offers relaxing experience in the cool breeze of the waters and an opportunity to sport many animals which crowd the shores of the lake to drink water such as elephants, lions, buffaloes, rhinos, crocodiles and many more.
Mahale Mountains national park is one of the best destination for Tanzania birding safaris, Mahale Mountains national park boosts over 350 bird species with both resident and migratory species. Birding in this park is best done in Kabezi area in the north sector of the park and this experience is an opportunity for spotting bird species such as Bamboo warbler, Blue-cheeked bee-eater, Crested Guineafowl, Crested malimbe, Crowned eagle, Giant kingfisher, Livingstone’s turaco, Palm-nut vulture, Ross’s turaco, Scaly francolin, Stuhlmann’s starling, Trumpeter hornbill, Vieillot’s black weaver and many more. Birding in Mahale Mountains national park is best done in the months of November – April when migratory birds are present in the park
Snorkeling safaris in Mahale Mountains national park is done in the clam waters of Lake Tanganyika, this safari is done while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube, a wetsuit and fins which help you swim in the waters of the lake. Due to the presence of crocodiles in the waters of Lake Tanganyika, snorkeling is only allowed in a few locations of the lake.
Kayaking safaris in Mahale Mountains national park is done in a small narrow boat propelled by a double-bladed paddle, this safari experience offers a great experience on the calm waters of Lake Tanganyika. The difference between canoeing and kayaking experience is the sitting position of the paddler.
Cultural tours in Mahale Mountains national park takes travellers on a visit to nearby villages of Holoholo and Batongwe people, Kigoma town and historical town of Ujiji, cultural tours offers an insight in the local tradition lifestyle of the Tanzania people and on this visit you will get an opportunity to interact with the local people, enjoy local dance and drama and many local activities. Kigoma town visited on the Tanzania cultural safari is the capital of Kigoma district and an economic center of the region, Ujiji town is a historic town with a great history dating back to the German colonial rule in the then Tanganyika and in the 19th century the town was visited by Dr Livingstone in a bid to stop slave trade.
Where to stay in Mahale Mountains national park
In Mahale Mountains national park there is a wide range of accommodation establishments that are lodges and camps offering accommodation to travelers visiting the park for a Tanzania safari, accommodation establishments in Mahale Mountains national park are of various status that are luxury, midrange and budge. Accommodation in Mahale Mountains national park is offered in Greystoke Mahale camp, Mbali Mbali Mahale lodge, Mahale Mango Bandas and many more.
How to get to Mahale Mountains national park
The easiest way to get Mahale Mountains national park for a Tanzania safari is by either road, air and boat means of transport
By air, chartered flights are offered by numerous flight companies such as Northern Air, Air Excel, and Regional Air from major cities of Tanzania such as Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar-es-Salaam, Mwanaza and Zanzibar.
By road, there are well maintained routes connecting to Mahale Mountains national park from various cities in Tanzania such as Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar-es-Salaam, Mwanaza and Zanzibar.
By Boat, Mahale Mountains national park is accessed using boat ride on Lake Tanganyika.