Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale mountains national park is located on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika in the remote western part of Tanzania south of Kigoma town. The park was gazetted in 1985 and covers a total land area of 1613 square kilometers which is comprised of vegetation types like Miombo woodland, Riverine forest, Montane forest, Montane grassland, Kasoge forest, Mahale mountains, wildlife species including large numbers of chimpanzees, other primates like colobus monkeys, animals like lions, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, squirrels, porcupines, mongoose, bird species like among others. The national park borders with Lake Tanganyika which is the longest and second deepest fresh water lake in the world.
Top things to see in Mahale mountains national park
Wildlife, Mahale mountains park is famously known for its large populations of chimpanzees which are about 800 and out of the actual number 60 individuals have been habituated for human presence. Apart from chimpanzees there are other primate spices which include blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, yellow baboons, red colobus monkeys, animals like elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, roan antelopes, wild dogs, lions among others.
Birds, the national park is a home of over 350 bird species ranging from forest birds, migratory and water birds. The bird species include crested guinea fowl, Ross’s turaco, giant kingfisher, African fish eagle, palm nut vulture, grey crowned eagle, bamboo warbler among others.
Mahale mountain ridge, these are mountain ranges on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The Mahale mountain ranges are about 50km in length and runs across the park from the northwest to the southwest. They have several peaks and the tallest peak is mount Nkungwe that rises at an elevation of 2462 meters above the sea level.
Lake Tangayika, Lake Tanganyika is the second deepest and longest fresh water lake in the world. the lake harbors about 1000 different species of fish including cichlid (colorful tropical fish), Nile perch, reptiles like Nile and slender snouted crocodiles among others and offers activities like sport fishing, swimming, kayaking, boat safaris, snorkeling and many more.
Top things to do in Mahale mountains national park
Chimpanzee trekking, chimpanzee trekking is most famous tourist activity carried out in Mahale national park. Chimpanzee trekking in the park is done with the help of a park guide who will be sharing information about the chimpanzees and also conversant with trails in the forest. You will be allocated a habituated chimpanzee family and then start trekking following clues of the nests where they slept the previous night. During trekking you will be able to view other primates, bird species, different plant and tree species among others and once the family has been found you will be allowed to spend one hour with the chimpanzees in their natural habitat which gives you an opportunity to watch them feeding, playing in trees, breastfeeding, hunting among others which gives you unforgettable experiences on your safari.
Guided nature walk, this is an adventurous activity in the park that gives you an opportunity to explore the forested slopes of the Mahale mountains on foot. Nature walks in the park are done with the help of an armed park ranger who will protect you from any danger and also show you different trails to follow. During the guided nature walk you will have great views of mount Nkungwe, different vegetation types, primates like chimpanzees, red colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, yellow baboons, animals like squirrels, mongoose, bush pigs, bushbucks, butterflies, listen to sweet sounds of bird species, enjoy the cool environment, take great pictures among others.
Bird watching, Mahale mountains national park is one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania for bird lovers in that it harbors over 350 bird species which range from water birds, migratory birds and forest bird species. During the birding safari you should look out for bird species like trumpeter hornbill, Ross’s turaco, palm nut vulture, giant kingfisher, crested guinea fowl, crested malimbe, blue cheeked bee-eater, scaly francolin, African fish eagle, Livingstone’s turaco among others.
Kayaking, kayaking is a fascinating activity which involves moving through water in a small water vessel with a double bladed paddle. During kayaking you will get incredible moments as you maneuver through waterways, kayaking on Lake Tanganyika is best done when the weather on the lake is calm.
Snorkeling, snorkeling is one of the fun activities to engage in while on your safari in Mahale mountains national park. During snorkeling in Lake Tanganyika you will get an opportunity to cool off, get close to beautiful underwater creatures like different species of cichlid, animals like hippos, crocodiles, take beautiful pictures of animals which come to drink water along the shores, refresh yourself among others.
Sport fishing, Mahale mountains national park is one of the protected areas in Tanzania that offer sport fishing activity. Sport fishing is an exciting activity that is done in designated areas with the company of an experienced park guide and it’s only allowed between 7:00am and 5:00pm. Visitors who want to take park in this activity are supposed to acquire a fishing permit or license from the park headquarters before embarking on an interesting sport fishing activity where you will use a catch and release method.
Best time to visit Mahale mountains national park
Mahale mountains national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to October because large groups of chimpanzees gather closer to the shores which gives you an opportunity to have clear views.
The national park can also be visited in the wet season because during the rainy season you will spectacular and memorable experiences of the lightning storms that light up the lake at night.
Getting to Mahale mountains national park
Mahale mountains national park is one of the uncrowned because it’s located in the remote western part of Tanzania. The national park can easily be reached by air and boat.
Air transport, visitors who want to use air transport means will book scheduled or chartered flights from Kigoma, Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha to Mahale airstrip. Chartered flights can be booked your tour operator.
Boat, Mahale national mountains park can also be accessed by boat and from Kigoma you can either take speed motorboats which takes about 3 to 4 hours ride or MV Liemba ferry which operates twice a week and takes about 8 to 10 hours to Lagosa point and then a boat from the park will be arranged to take you to the park.
Road transport, though the roads to the park can be rough and inaccessible especially during the rainy season Mahale mountains national park can as well be accessed by road transport means. When using road you will drive from Arusha or Kigoma to the nearby villages through Simbo junction and then take a boat or charter flight to the park headquarters.
Where to stay on your safari in Mahale mountains national park
Mahale mountains national park has a number of accommodation facilities ranging from luxury, midrange, budget and campsites where you can stay on your safari. The accommodations include Greysoke Mahale, Mbali Mbali Mahale, Kungwe beach lodge, Mahale mango bandas, Mahale classic lodge, Kasiha bandas, Mlukoyoyo guest house among others.
Mahale mountains national park is one of the off the beaten track parks in Tanzania in that it offer incredible moments, great attractions and adventurous activities like chimpanzee trekking, guided nature walks, bird watching, snorkeling, kayaking, sport fishing and swimming on lake Tanganyika. To know more about Mahale mountains national park you can contact Focus East Africa tours.