Chimpanzee. Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park

2 reviews

Safari suitability: 8/10

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Park is very remote, four out of the big five, but the chimpanzee refuge is one-of-a-kind.

Companies: 18
Tour packages: 25
Wildlife: 12 animals listed
Total area: 1613 km² (623 mi²)
Year established: 1985
Anti-malarial: Not required

What YAS members think

Quality of wildlife:
Crowdedness:
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Most-visited month:
December
* Crowded parks have a lower rating

Highlights

  • Famous for its chimpanzees

  • Climb the Mahale Mountain Range

  • Large lake fishing and snorkeling

About Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park is located in eastern Tanzania, and is one of the smaller parks of this country. Bordered by Lake Tanganyika and diverse with jungles and plains, Mahale Mountains National Park’s main attraction is its chimpanzees. It is the pre-eminent chimp habitats in all of Africa.

Along the water and beaches, there are countless fishing options and snorkeling. Just inland from the water is the Mahale Mountain Range. Its summit at Mt. Nkungwe is a three day trek and worth the trip for its exquisite terrain, adventurous camping, and spectacular views. 

Out on the plains, walking safaris can last for days, where giraffes and hippopotamuses can be spotted.  Four of the big five are also common—lion, elephant, buffalo and leopard—in Mahale.

Visiting with the chimpanzees

Mahale maintains strict regulations on tours to help ensure the survival of its endangered residents. When visiting the chimps, it is forbidden to bring any food, drink or belongings. Backpacks will be left with guides at a safe distance to ensure curious primates are kept safe. The group size is kept small. No more than six people plus a guide are allowed in one group and viewing times are kept to one hour maximum. These rules are very similar to other primate trekking experiences, such as the mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda.

Access to the 1613 km² (623mi²) park is most difficult by car. The recommended route is through Kigoma, and most trips in Tanzania originate in Dar se Salaam. From Kigoma, speedboats can reach the park in about three hours and freight boats can take as long as a day. There are regular flights from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma.  A three day cross country train or car ride from Dar es Salaam is the most feasible terrestrial route to and from the park. 

When is the best time to visit Mahale Mountains National Park?

May through October dry season is the best time to go. October and November, the start of the rainy season, is not terribly wet. 

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"Live like Robinson Crusoe for a few days"
Safari guru
United StatesUnited States
95 kudus
Photos (4)
Reviews (4)
Visited: Dec. 2010 Reviewed: Jan. 04, 2016

One of my favorite spots in Tanzania, this park is a bit of a slog to get to (on light aircraft via Tabora and Katavi, then by dhow on Lake Tanganyika), but totally worth the journey. Probably the best chimp trekking experience I've had on the continent, and a fantastic overall experience to boot. The chimp trekking is somewhat strenuous (it's called Mahale *Mountains* National Park), but if you're fit, it's quite enjoyable, albeit HOT. The jungle is fascinating in its own right (with fascinating insects, as well as other primates such as colobus monkeys), but the time with the chimps is absolutely incredible. Overall, I think gorilla trekking is tops for primates in Africa, but this is a close second. We stayed at Greystoke Mahale on the shores of the lake. The chalets look like they came out of the pages of Robinson Crusoe and are fun, funky and comfortable. One night there was a roiling storm that came from DRC, and we got to listen to waves crashing into the beach while watching one hell of a light show - just an added bonus to our stay. The beach is also nice and while swimming has risks (crocs and hippos live in the lake), puttering around the shallow water with snorkel gear is nice and a good way to cool off on a hot day. This is also home to the very best sushi I've ever had. A few times a week, the camp has permission to fish, and they come back with kuhe, which is then made into sashimi, sushi and later, dinner. Out-of-this world! All in all, it's a very unique, very special place. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

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13People gave this
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Safari guru
United StatesUnited States
Visited: Dec. 2010
Reviewed: Jan. 04, 2016

13People gave this
a kudu

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"All about the chimps"
Safari guru
KenyaKenya
250 kudus
Photos (10)
Reviews (16)
Visited: Dec. 2011 Reviewed: May. 27, 2013

Deep inside Tanzania, along the shore of lake tanganyika, lies Mahale National Park. A park famed for "chimping". A bit interior and expensive to visit, our stay was at the greystoke mahale lodge, which is set in the park. From the mahale airstrip the lodge is only accessible by boat on the beautiful lake tanganyika. After an hour of amazing scenery during the boat ride we arrived at the lodge. We were welcomed by resident warthogs. The facilities here are top notch and after an excellent meal we rested paving energy for our trek. Prepared for some long trekking, we put on our safari boots, jungle trousers, packed food and carried some bottled water. We came for chimping but deep in to the trek we saw a wide diversity of flora and fauna, troops of monkeys crisscrossing through the branches, picturesque arrays of colored birds chirping over us completing the scenery.The gallery of trees, lush green vegetation around us was also a sight to behold. After hours of trekking our talented tracker Hassan led us to the chimpanzees. This was the payoff. Habituated chimpanzees of over 100 plus, named group M. It was amazing to see them together. The complex intelligent creatures were unperturbed by our presence. We could only smile and take pictures of them--a joyous sight indeed. Its sad, however, since only 1hr in a day is allowed in the chimps presence. Apart form chimping we did some fishing as our camp was located near the shore of lake tanganyika and some boat riding. There is a beautiful waterfall with an awesome pool where you can swim. The trip was a bit expensive but if you want privacy, tranquility , excellent scenery and awesome trekking, then this is the place.

Quality of wildlife
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12People gave this
a kudu

 Like this review? Go on, give it a Kudu!
Safari guru
KenyaKenya
Visited: Dec. 2011
Reviewed: May. 27, 2013

12People gave this
a kudu

 Like this review? Go on, give it a kudu!

Domestic flights to Mahale Mountain

Due to its remote location, it is not advisable to drive from any international airport. Precision Air offers daily flights from Dar as Salaam to Kigoma, and the flights are roughly three hours in duration. From Kigoma, the drive is about two hours, in normal conditions. 

The following airlines travel to Mahale Mountains National Park


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As Salaam Air has grown to be a leading air carrier between the Tanzanian Islands. Our experienced team understands that customer satisfaction is important to the creation of a successful flight operation. Thus, we go above and beyond to satisfy our clients. The airline plies eight routes to promote tourism within and outside the country. We have two fuel-efficient aircraft – Cessna 208B Grand Caravan and Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, which are good for the environment and the safety of our clients.We would like to help you discover more about our Islands here on our website and at every step of your journey Visit website

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Premium Charter Service is an air charter broker based in Tanzania. We offer our valued clients a truly exclusive flying experience, one that combines luxury with the convenience of flying privately. Our network of domestic and international operators adheres to strict standards of quality. We deliver a superior experience to our clients with a high level of professionalism. Visit website

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Affordable Flights now connect the most remote and exciting parts of Tanzania - Zanzibar/Dar/Selous/Mikumi and Ruaha to Katavi and Mahale National Parks. Daily Flights from Zanzibar or Dar to Ruaha National Park via Selous or Mikumi. Visit website

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Safari Plus is Tanzania’s first, Premium Charter operator in Tanzania positioned to offer unique flying experience while giving our customers flexibility and total control over their travel needs around the country and beyond. The Airline was established in 2009. 1 x Beechcraft King Air 350 with 8 Seats configured in executive club seating. 2 x Beechcraft 1900D with 18 Seats. Head office based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Operating base at Julius Nyerere International Airport. Approved by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority to operate both; Scheduled Air Services and Non-Schedule Air Services (Charter Services). Visit website

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Premier safari airline and charter. Safarilink is Kenya's premier safari airline with a network of connecting domestic scheduled services to all the best safari destinations within Kenya and across the border into northern Tanzania. From it's base at Wilson Airport, Nairobi SafariLink provides daily scheduled flights to Masai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo West, Naivasha, Nanyuki, Lewa Downs, Samburu, Lamu, Kilimanjaro, Loisaba, Migori and Diani Beach. Additionally it can also provide private charter flights if a client's particular requirement as regards destination or timing cannot be met by the scheduled services. Visit website

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TANZANAIR was formed in 1969 and pioneered aviation throughout Tanzania. Today it continues to live up to its slogan as the“Complete Aviation Company”. It was founded by Dinos J Samaras who managed the Company until he passed away in April 2010. It is now headed by his son John Samaras who was his deputy since 1983. With 45 years’ experience, TANZANAIR offers tailor-made air travel to suit the needs of its customers. With a modern fleet of twin and single-engine Cessna and Beechcraft turbine aircraft, TANZANAIR’s well-established reputation leads the way in air charter services throughout the region. TANZANAIR operates out of its own purpose-built Passenger Terminal located between Terminal I and II at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. The passenger lounge is adjacent to the two hangars. It is housed within a secure wall enclosed compound with ample parking facilities. Visit website

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Flown by an international team of pilots, Zantas Air has one of the youngest fleets of Cessna Grand Caravans in Tanzania. These are maintained to the highest safety standards and comply with the ICAO, CESSNA, and TCAA directives. We have an exclusive lounge at Arusha airport. Guests can relax in our comfortable lounge while they wait for their flight. Our operations are designed to suit our client's needs with a customized itinerary based on their schedule. Zantas Air works with its sister company, Mbali Mbali Lodges and Camps, to offer shared charter flights. We fly passengers from Northern Tanzania to Western Tanzania twice a week on Monday and Thursdays. Visit website

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