Mahale Mountains National Park lies on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. Named after the Mahale Mountains range that is within its borders, the Mahale Mountains National Park was gazetted in 1985, covers an area of 1 613 km² and is located about 128 km south of Kigoma town on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The western boundary of the park protects an adjacent 1.6 km wide strip of Lake Tanganyika’s water, the park has several unusual characteristics. First, it is one of only two protected areas for chimpanzees in the country. (The other is nearby Gombe Stream National Park made famous by the researcher Jane Goodall.) Another unusual feature of the park is that it is one of the very few in Africa that must be experienced by foot. There are no roads or other infrastructure within the park boundaries, and the only way in and out of the park is via boat on the lake. It can easily be reached by Charter flight from Arusha, Dar or Kigoma. Charter private or national park motorboat from Kigoma, three to four hours. Best time; Dry season (May-October) best for forest walks although no problem in the light rains of October/ November.
Mahale offers a number of outstanding attractions for visitors, from tracking wild habituated chimpanzees, to mountain climbing during the dry season (May – October) takes 2-3 days to reach the summit, snorkelling, fishing, kayaking and relaxing on deserted, pristine, white, sandy beaches. Walking safaris in the beautiful, lowland forest allow close encounters with a vast array of birds and animals such as lion, elephant, hippo, buffalo, giraffe and leopard. These safaris may require up to 7 days, and the historical town Ujiji is worth a detour.
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