A chain of dramatic peaks draped in lush forest commands the lake far below, thin curls of white sand lacing crescent azure coves like flashes of silk. Like its northerly neighbour, Gombe the Mahale Mountains are home to some of the last remaining wild chimpanzees in Africa. There in isolated rainforest around 1,000 if these fascinating animals roam the valleys and hills.


A trip to see the chimpanzees is a magical experience. Your guide’s experienced eyes distinguish last night’s nests – shadowy clumps high in a galley of trees crowding the sky. Scraps of half eaten fruit and fresh dung become valuable clues, leading you deeper into the forest. Butterflies flirt in the dappled sunlight. Suddenly you are in the middle of a chimpanzee day. They preen each other’s glossy coats in concentrated huddles, squabble noisily or bound effortlessly into the trees, swinging nonchalantly through the vines.


The area is also know as Nkungwe – named after the park’s massive mountain. At 2,460 meters it is the highest of the six prominent points that make up the mountain range which runs down the Mahale promontory alongside Lake Tanganyika.


You can also trace the Tongwe people’s ancient pilgrimage to the mountain sprits, hiking through enclaves of rainforest to grassy ridges chequered with alpine bamboo. Then return to the lake to plunge into the clean waters, home to 250 unique species of fish before returning as you came by boat.



Size 1,613 sq km (about 1000 sq miles).
Location Western Tanzania, bordering Lake Tanganyika.

Getting there

Charter flight from Arusha, Dar or Kigoma; charter boat services from Kigoma; weekly steamer from Kigoma, 7 hours then a hire a local fishing boat or arrange with park HQ for pickup in park boat, another 1-2 hours.
What to do Chimp tracking (allow 2 days) hiking; camping safaris; snorkelling; fish for your dinner.
Best Time Dry season (May-October) best for forest walks although no problem in the light rains of October/November.


One seasonal luxury tented camp with plans for another. Two small rest houses, large campsite

Please Note

The same for chimpanzee viewing at Gombe Stream apply at Mahale.

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