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Mahale Mountains National Park

track the last remaining wild chimpanzees

Greystoke Mahale is a paradise filled with unforgettable chimp experiences

Mahale is home to over 900 wild chimpanzees – some of the last of their kind in Africa.

 

Greystoke Mahale National Park

Greystoke Mahale offers a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for those travelers who seek unique adventures in secluded areas, far, far away from the crowds. Located in western Tanzania, Greystoke Mahale Mountains National Park 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. You will find that just being in their presence is a magical experience.

 

One of the unusual things about Mahale vegetation is the wide array of habitat types that it contains. The park is a mosaic of overlapping rainforest, woodland, bamboo forest, montane forest and grasslands meaning that can support a unique mix of flora, birds and fauna that rely on various habitats.

 

Mahale Mountains National Park is a paradise filled with unique experiences. At Mahale, guests can experience a diverse range of activities–from close encounters with chimpanzees in their natural habitat, walking safaris, guided hikes to Mount Nkungwe, swimming, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking and relaxing on deserted, pristine, white, sand beaches and so much more. While not a traditional game drive destination, the uniqueness of the Mahale Mountains National Park experience can best be combined with a traditional safari at Katavi National Park where visitor traffic is low. You can choose to add Mahale as an extension to your safari if you are already visiting the popular national parks in the Northern Safari Circuit (i.e. Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater).

 

Lake Tanganyika, Kigoma

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 large 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 vital ports, including Bujumbura (Burundi), Kalemi (Congo) and Ujiji and Kigoma (Tanzania).

 

Ready to start planning a tailor-made safari to Greystoke Mahale Mountains National Park? Our experts make planning your Tanzania safari experience a walk in the park. To help you with trip planning, browse our travel guide to find expert advice on safari in Mahale. Get inspired with our sample itineraries and let our Wito experts customize a dream trip just for you! 

Want to track wild chimps at Greystoke Mahale National Park? Here are the best months to go.

 

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 (June – 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 visit during the rainy season, you may be treated to a dramatic lightning storm over the lake at night. The natural forest of Mahale becomes slippery during the heavy rainy season, so many properties stay closed in April and May. We do not recommend travelling to Mahale during the wet season.

 

How to get to Greystoke Mahale Mountains National Park?

The park is easy to access from Kigoma, Tabora and Arusha. Once you arrive at Mahale by bush plane, you will take a motorized boat to get to your stunning property along the shoreline of Lake Tanganyika. Because there are no roads within the park boundaries, the only way in and out of Mahale is by boat across the lake.

 

This is what your typical chimp trek in Greystoke Mahale Mountains National Park would look like:

Even if you mentally and physically prepare for your trek, you should be ready to feel incredibly humbled when you finally encounter these gentle chimpanzees. You can expect to be led by a knowledgeable guide and assisted by friendly porters as you navigate trails that wind up through branches and bush by stepping up, over, around, and under dense vegetation.

 

You will start your trek from a central location, where you can walk to the trailhead to kick off your journey. Excitement quickly increases as you enter the surreal surroundings of untamed jungle terrain. The trekking time to meet a family of chimps can range from 30 minutes to three hours. During that hour, you will have the opportunity to observe their calm but potent presence in the wild. While on the mountainside, you can eat your packed lunch before slowly descending the majestic terrain with your guide and porters.

 

Finally, to enhance your private guided Greystoke Mahale National Park adventure, try boating, a guided village tour, fishing or even the barefoot luxury of walking on the sand beach along Lake Tanganyika.

 

After a full day of chimp tracking in Greystoke Mahale National Park, you will be taken to your handpicked safari camp or lodge, where you will unwind and savour some delicious food and sundowners.

 

Ready to start planning? Select your preferred time to travel, then let a Wito Africa safari expert create an itinerary that meets your needs for a safari and incorporates the highlights of that season. We can save you time, money, headaches and heartache by helping you plan your dream safari. To start planning your safari in Greystoke Mahale, please call us at 1-315.805.4040 or send our safari experts a message via email.

How to Plan Your Greystoke Mahale Mountain National Park Like a Pro

 

There are many factors to consider when planning a Greystoke Mahale chimp tracking adventure in Tanzania. Deciding which reliable tour operator (s) to use for your dream African safari experience is not an easy task. With a sea of general online tour operators, it is hard to find the ONE that truly speaks to your discerning tastes and genuinely understands your travel needs and expectations.

 

Start by gathering enough information to help you decide on the best destination. Being so remote, it is not as easy and cheap to access Mahale as you’ll find with popular parks in the southern and northern safari circuits. Two flights per week go to Mahale on Mondays and Thursdays; therefore, you will need to spend at least three nights before you can board the flight to Arusha via Tabora (refuelling) and Kilimanjaro. The scheduled flights to Mahale usually fly from Arusha to Serengeti via Tabora (refuelling) and then off to Mahale. Due to limited flights and difficulty with accessibility, most travellers find the flights to be expensive but very rewarding. There are no roads within the park boundaries, so the only way in and out of Mahale is by boat across the lake.

 

Similarly to many other national parks in Tanzania, Greystoke Mahale National Park offers a unique setting for safari-goers to stay inside the park. You’ll stay in some of the most charming safari camps and lodges, where you will unwind and enjoy delicious food and sundowners. 

 

With several accommodation options to choose from, we can guarantee that your safari experience will be meticulously created just for you with your specific interests, travel style and schedule. Everything will be tailored to your preference, allowing you to enjoy a perfect balance of comfort, adventure and maximum wildlife viewing. We will only recommend the places we have stayed in and inspected thoroughly, and we can guarantee you will be safe.

 

If you choose to explore the beauty of Greystoke Mahale Mountains National Park, we highly recommend using qualified local chimpanzee trekkers and guides. With our personalized trips, you will have control over your experience and enjoy all the flexibility you need to plan your daily trek with your expert chimp trekker and private guide.

 

As a standard offering for all our experiences, we provide all meals, bottled drinking water, tea/coffee and juices at breakfast for the duration of your trip. We can accommodate all kinds of dietary requirements such as vegetarian, vegan, halal, and kosher to pescatarian. Moreover, bottled drinking water and soft drinks will be readily available throughout your safari experience with us. We have a stocked mini-fridge in the vehicle that will cool drinks whilst you enjoy your uninterrupted wildlife viewing from the comfort of your customized safari jeep.

 

Our unique approach to offering a stress-free safari experience starts with ensuring that you are well informed about the specific requirements of the country you visit, with the hope that you’ll know exactly what to expect. Understanding how a safari operates, what is involved before and during, and what key points to consider when booking ensures an unforgettable safari adventure. Topics like when to visit, how to get there, and what to pack are addressed by safari experts. 

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At Wito Africa Safaris, giving our customers unbiased advice and exceptional safari experiences is what we live and breathe. Our Africa safari experts are well-traveled and have in-depth first-hand knowledge of the places they suggest. To make sure these offerings live up to the expectations of our guests, the experts at Wito Africa routinely inspect new lodges, experiences, and activities. Nothing beats current, pertinent travel advice obtained directly from a local expert. The Wito Africa 'dream team' will be there for you every step of the way to ensure that even your smallest needs are met and no detail is overlooked, so you can embrace your experience with complete peace of mind.

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Get the best shots of your life with the help of our experienced wildlife photographers. Whether you are just getting started with photography, a wildlife enthusiast, or a professional photographer seeking new adventures, our tailor-made Africa photo safaris are suitable for all levels of photographic experience. Hosted by professional wildlife photographers from start to finish, we will take you on a journey to some of Africa’s most prolific wildlife areas.

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WHERE TO STAY IN GREYSTOKE MAHALE NP

Just for you, we have hunted out the very best lodges, villas, camps and even treehouses in Tanzania to suit every budget, itinerary and personal preference. Trust us – you’re going to be spoilt for choice! An awe-inspiring setting is just the beginning… Every one of our recommended accommodation options will blow you away with personal service, attention to detail and various levels of luxury.

Greystoke Mahale Tanzania

This is one of our favorite settings, between the cool clear waters of Lake Tanganyika and the striking Mahale Mountains. Exceptionally remote, it does feel like your 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 could be 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!

Mbali Mbali Mahale

Mbali Mbali Mahale sits on a stretch of sheltered golden beach deep in the heart of the African interior. Boasting a backdrop formed by the dramatic Mahale Mountain range and the crystal clear waters of Lake Tanganyika in the foreground, this secluded and romantic hideaway is the perfect blend of relaxation and luxury.

 

This property received a comprehensive refurbishment in 2019, and the park is secluded. We often recommend this circuit to guests who want to access the destination to enjoy the remote seclusion.

 

Each well-appointed Beach tent has been strategically positioned to offer guests privacy while allowing easy access to the beach and communal areas. Each Beach Tent is on a raised platform; delivers 24-hour electricity and hot and cold running water. The tents provide self-contained mosquito nets around the beds and bathroom.

 

The price of comfort has not been at the cost of the environment. Mbali Mbali Mahale is powered by solar energy, and much care has been taken to reduce our carbon footprint.

 

The primary activity in the park is chimpanzee trekking, carefully monitored to reduce human impact on the famous habituated M-Group chimps. Take a gentle boat safari on the lake, or opt for a fishing excursion, where you may encounter crocodiles, hippos and otters. You will see an abundance of birdlife as well. Kayaks are available for exploring the lake at your leisure, or you may stretch out under one of the salas on the beach while the gentle lapping of the lake lulls you into an afternoon siesta.

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