Mahale Mountains National Park: watching chimpanzees with Lake Tanganyika in the background

Facts Mahale Moutains National Park:

  • Founded in 1985
  • Famous for its chimpanzees, which have been habituated in the park by a Japanese research team since 1965
  • There is a small selection of affordable, park-owned accommodation and private luxury camps
  • Size: 1,613 km2 = twice the size of Berlin

Best time to visit:

  • A visit is not really recommended during the rainy season from April to May. It is not possible to travel by car, the paths in the park are very wet and at least the private accommodation is closed.
  • From August to December, the chimpanzees tend to be found not too far from the camp.
  • In January and February as well as June and July, they can be found at higher altitudes due to food, which is why longer distances have to be covered when trekking.
  • In the high season from June to October, you can also enjoy the beaches.

Highlights Mahale Mountains National Park: 

  • Chimpanzee trekking
  • Climbing Mount Nkungwe
  • Canoeing, fishing, snorkeling or swimming in Lake Tanganyika

Getting here from Arusha: 

  • It takes two full days to drive by safari car to Mpanda (980 km) and then another 200 km to the park
  • Alternatively to Kigoma by bus or safari car in just under 2 days = 1,067 km and then onwards by boat (5 – 15 hours)
  • By charter flight directly from Arusha via the park’s own airstrip in around 4 hours

This national park is the second habitat for chimpanzees in Tanzania. Similar to Gombe Stream National Park, which is not too far away, a Japanese research team began the habitat of the apes, which are so closely related to us, in the 1960s. You can reach Mahale Mountains via the park’s own airstrip on a charter flight or by safari car on adventurous roads. Alternatively, you can travel by boat from Kigoma town. There are various options here, from speedboats in just under 5 hours, to steamboats in a good 10 hours, to local wooden boats in around 15 hours, depending on your preference. Once you arrive in the park, which is almost twice the size of Berlin, you will be taken to your accommodation by boat. Due to the dense forest and the location of Mahale Mountains National Park directly on Lake Tanganyika, there is no other way to get around apart from walking and boating. In addition to the obligatory Tanzania chimpanzee trekking, you can also observe other primates, birds, warthogs and possibly leopards in the park. For hiking enthusiasts, there is also the multi-day ascent of Mount Nkungwe at 2,459 meters, which is the sacred mountain of the Tongwe tribe living around Mahale. You can also go snorkeling and fishing in Mahale Mountains National Park.