This remote National Park also has one of the most beautiful camps anywhere in Africa. Set among the spectacular, forested slopes of the Mahale Mountains, the Mahale Mountains National Park was originally created to protect the thousands of chimpanzees that inhabit the region. It is renowned for its fantastic sunsets over Lake Tanganyika, which makes it an essential stop for keen photographers and safari enthusiasts.
The lakeshore here is a beach of the finest powder-white sand, behind which rises a range of imposing mountains, clad in verdant tropical vegetation. Big electric-blue butterflies flit above the streams and the forest is alive with sound. It's not only beautiful, but it also harbours Tanzania's densest population of primates: yellow baboon, red colobus, blue, red-tailed and vervet monkeys are never far away – and then, of course, there are the chimpanzees.
The main attraction of Mahale is chimpanzee trekking. The hike to reach the Mahale chimpanzees can vary from a leisurely wander of 20 minutes to a more strenuous hike lasting up to three hours. Towards the end of the dry season (August to October) Mahale's chimp safaris are at their easiest, as the forest paths are at their driest and least slippery, and the chimps are usually at their closest to the shore.
Mahale offers so much more than chimpanzee viewing. It is a truly beautiful remote location. You can go kayaking, snorkelling or fish out on the lake, spend hours walking through the forest spotting other smaller primates and plenty of birds, or climb through narrow tracks to discover hidden waterfalls.
The only drawback is this western circuit is extremely remote, tricky to access and pretty costly to visit. As a result few people make the effort to come here and so it has remained an untouched, unique experience, and absolutely worth visiting.
4.5 / 5
It is possible to track chimpanzees all year in Mahale Mountains. However, the chances of finding them improve towards the end of the Dry season (from July to October) when the chimps favor the lower slopes. If you have two or three days, your chance of seeing them is reasonable at any time of the year.
July to October (Crowds in Mahale are rare)
April and May (Most lodges are closed)
May to October (Almost no rainfall)
November to April (Wet season)
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