Overview – Mahale Mountains NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Bradt guidebooks to African destinations, including the guide to Tanzania.

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Bradt guidebook to Tanzania.

Philip is the author of the Bradt guidebook to Tanzania.

In Mahale, chimpanzees are the star attraction. There are roughly 800 chimps in the park, of which about 60 individuals of the Mimikere group are very habituated to people. The research and habituation in Mahale is a Japanese project that goes back as long as Jane Goodall's research in neighboring Gombe NP.

Best Time to Go July to October (Chimp trekking is easy)
High Season July to October (Crowds in Mahale are rare)
Size 1,613km² / 623mi²
Altitude 767-2,388m / 2,516-7,835ft

Pros and Cons

  • A chance to come face-to-face with chimps, one of Africa's big apes
  • The park is much bigger than Gombe, the more famous chimp park
  • Pristine forest at the shore of Lake Tanganyika
  • Watching wildlife on a hike is a nice change from vehicle safaris
  • Very exclusive and doesn't get crowded
  • Difficult to get to and accommodation options are limited
  • Only very expensive packages available

Mahale Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Mahale's chimps are the main attraction, but the park supports a diverse forest fauna, including readily observed troops of red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkey, and many colorful forest birds and butterflies. Warthog can sometimes be seen around the camp.

Scenery

The park is a chain of wild, jungle-draped peaks towering almost 2km above the shore of the azure water of Lake Tanganyika. The geography of this classic Rift Valley lake with its steep escarpment and white sandy beaches, is best appreciated on a dhow trip. A hike to a beautiful waterfall in the rainforest is another activity on offer.

Weather & Climate

Not surprisingly, the altitude in the Mahale Mountains varies a lot. This affects the average temperatures, which get progressively cooler the higher you go. The other main influences on conditions are the two clear-cut seasons: the Dry (May to October) and the Wet (November to April). The former brings plenty of warmth and blue skies, while in the latter, the humidity skyrockets along with the rainfall.

Best Time to Visit

Tracking chimpanzees is considerably easier at the tail end of the Dry season (from July to October). This is when the animals favor the lower slopes of the mountains, and the forest tracks are firm underfoot. In the wetter months, the chimps are harder to find. That said, brimming waterfalls and an explosion of butterflies make an exploration at this time worthwhile.

Want to Visit Mahale Mountains NP?

Mahale Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Chimpanzees on the shore of Lake Tanganyika
5/5

Mahale Mountains is arguably the best place in Africa to see chimpanzees. There are several lovely lodges on the lake shore and visitors can go out chimp tracking every morning. The chimps are habituated and go about their business as if...

Latest User Review
4/5

The Park is excellent as is its wildlife and nature. The standard accommodation there is not overwhelming but all in all I rate the price-quality-relation as satisfying.