Mahale Mountains National Park
Located in western Tanzania, Mahale borders the glistening waters of Lake Tanganyika. The jewel in its crown is that it is home to a population of around 900 wild chimpanzees – some of the last of their kind in Africa. They are well accustomed to human visitors, thanks to a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s, and you will find that just being in their presence is a truly magical experience.
Best Time for Chimp Trekking in Mahale:
You can visit the park all year round but the best time of year for sightings of large groups of chimpanzees is the dry season (May – October). This also gives you the best view of the vast, serene lake as the sunshine dances on the water and illuminates the fish. Lake Tanganyika is the least polluted freshwater lake in the world and accommodates approximately 1,000 fish species. If you do visit during the rainy season, though, you may be treated to a dramatic lightning storm over the lake at night.
Forming the border between Tanzania and Congo, Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest freshwater lake (660 km), and the deepest in Africa (over 1,436 m). It’s also estimated to be between 9 and 13 million years old and is home to a huge volume of fish species. This, and the fact that it is the least polluted freshwater lake in the world, makes it an exceptional snorkeling and diving destination, if the mood takes you. Among its estimated 1,000 fish species, Tanganyika harbors 98% of the 250-plus species of cichlids, so you can expect a bright and vibrant underwater spectacle.
You’re also likely to see hippos and crocodiles enjoying the clear, refreshing water, and the bird life is rich and diverse. Along the shores grow oil palms, rice and subsistence crops, and the lake is also used for fishing. With a foothold in Tanzania, Congo, Burundi and Zambia, Lake Tanganyika hosts some important ports, including Bujumbura (Burundi), Kalemi (Congo), and Ujiji and Kigoma (Tanzania).
Mahale Mountains National Park Gallery
MAHALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK MAP
Wito's Top Picks - Accommodation in Mahale Mountains National Park
This is one of our very favorite settings, between the cool, clear waters of Lake Tanganyika and the striking Mahale Mountains. Exceptionally remote, it really does feel like your own, personal paradise. Built to be eco-friendly and in harmony with the landscape, the six thatched bandas are tucked in amongst the trees at the foot of the forest. They are all en suite, with running water and a boiler that’s lit on request, to save energy. Open-fronted, they offer sweeping views across the serene lake, and you can wander to the headland in the evening for a sundowner by lamplight. Bliss!