Tanzania Safari Expert

Mahale Mountains National Park

A Pristine Wilderness of Chimpanzees and Spectacular Scenery


Welcome to Mahale Mountains National Park, a hidden treasure nestled on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. Known for its untouched natural beauty and being one of the best places in the world to observe wild chimpanzees, Mahale Mountains National Park offers a remarkable and unforgettable safari experience. Get ready to embark on a journey into a pristine wilderness teeming with wildlife and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.

Location and Geography

Mahale Mountains National Park is located in the western part of Tanzania, bordering Lake Tanganyika. Covering an area of approximately 1,613 square kilometers (623 square miles), the park is dominated by the Mahale Mountain range, with its highest peak, Mount Nkungwe, reaching an elevation of 2,462 meters (8,077 feet). The park’s stunning landscape encompasses lush rainforests, crystal-clear streams, and the vast expanse of Lake Tanganyika.

How to Get There:

To reach Mahale Mountains National Park, the most common way is to fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) near Arusha.

From there, you can take a domestic flight to Mahale Airstrip. Alternatively, you can travel by boat from Kigoma, which is accessible by rail, road, or air from Dar es Salaam.

Chimpanzee Trekking:

Mahale Mountains National Park is renowned for its population of wild chimpanzees, making it one of the best places in the world for chimpanzee trekking. Led by experienced guides, embark on thrilling trekking adventures through the dense forests in search of these fascinating primates. Observe their behavior, social interactions, and perhaps even witness their playful antics. Spending time with the chimpanzees in their natural habitat is a truly humbling and awe-inspiring experience.

Scenic Beauty and Outdoor Activities:

Mahale Mountains National Park boasts breathtaking scenery that combines lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and the glistening waters of Lake Tanganyika. Here are some activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty:

  1. Hiking and Nature Walks: Explore the park’s trails and embark on guided hikes and nature walks. Traverse through diverse ecosystems, soak in the tranquility of the rainforest, and discover hidden gems like stunning waterfalls and panoramic viewpoints.
  2. Boat Safaris and Lake Activities: Experience the wonders of Lake Tanganyika with boat safaris and water activities. Cruise along the lake’s shores, witness the scenic beauty, and enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or simply relaxing on the pristine beaches.
  3. Cultural Interactions: Engage with the local communities residing near the park, including the Tongwe and Bende tribes. Immerse yourself in their traditions, learn about their customs, and gain insights into their harmonious coexistence with the natural environment.
Chimp+Trekking mahale national park
mahale mountains national park

Important Considerations:

  • Chimpanzee trekking permits are required to observe the chimpanzees and are limited in number. It is advisable to book your permits in advance.
  • Mahale Mountains National Park is remote and secluded, with limited facilities. It is essential to come prepared with all necessary supplies, including toiletries, medications, and sufficient cash.
  • Pack appropriate clothing for varying weather conditions, including lightweight and breathable attire, rain gear, and sturdy hiking shoes.
  • Respect the park’s rules and regulations, including guidelines for chimpanzee trekking and wildlife encounters. Always maintain a safe distance from wildlife and follow the instructions of your guides.

Accommodation Options:

Accommodation in Mahale Mountains National Park mainly consists of rustic and eco-friendly lodges and camps.

These lodges provide a comfortable base for your safari adventures while minimizing the impact on the park’s delicate ecosystem. Notable options include Greystoke Mahale, Kungwe Beach Lodge, and Mbali Mbali Mahale.

Research and Conservation:

Mahale Mountains National Park is not only a popular tourist destination but also an important center for research and conservation efforts. The park serves as a field site for several research projects focused on understanding chimpanzee behavior, ecology, and conservation. By visiting the park, you contribute to the ongoing conservation initiatives that protect the chimpanzees and their habitat.

Greystoke mahale mountains

Pristine Beaches and Water Activities:

The park’s location along the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika offers visitors the chance to enjoy pristine beaches and engage in various water activities. Take a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters of the lake, go snorkeling to discover the underwater world teeming with colorful fish, or try your hand at fishing for the renowned Tanganyika perch.

Sunset Boat Cruises:

Embark on a relaxing boat cruise during the golden hour to witness mesmerizing sunsets over Lake Tanganyika. The calm waters and breathtaking vistas create a serene and magical atmosphere.

Capture stunning photographs as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the surrounding mountains and the glistening lake.

Forest Walks and Botanical Delights:

Apart from chimpanzees, Mahale Mountains National Park is home to a rich variety of flora. Explore the lush rainforests on guided forest walks and discover a diverse range of plant species.

Learn about the medicinal uses of certain plants, admire beautiful orchids and towering trees, and gain a deeper appreciation for the park’s biodiversity.

mahale sunset
Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania

Scenic Mountain Hikes:

For the adventurous souls, embark on challenging yet rewarding hikes in the Mahale Mountains. Scale the slopes of Mount Nkungwe, the highest peak in the park, for panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. As you ascend, encounter unique plant species and spot wildlife such as monkeys and birds along the way.

Primate Diversity:

While the chimpanzees steal the spotlight, Mahale Mountains National Park is home to several other primate species. Keep an eye out for the red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, and yellow baboons that inhabit the park. The diverse primate population offers opportunities for observing their unique behaviors and interactions within the forested habitats.

Nature Photography:

Mahale Mountains National Park presents a paradise for nature photographers. The stunning landscapes, vibrant flora, and diverse wildlife offer endless opportunities to capture breathtaking shots.

Whether it’s a close-up of a chimpanzee’s expressive face or the panoramic view of the mountains reflected in the tranquil waters of Lake Tanganyika, photography enthusiasts will find themselves in an artistic wonderland.

Research and Conservation Efforts:

Mahale Mountains National Park has been a focal point for chimpanzee research and conservation. The park has been a site for long-term studies conducted by researchers and primatologists, contributing to our understanding of chimpanzee behavior, ecology, and conservation. Visitors may have the chance to learn about ongoing research initiatives and the efforts in place to protect these endangered primates.

mahale chimps national park

Camping and Bushcraft:

Mahale Mountains National Park has been a focal point for chimpanzee research and conservation. The park has been a site for long-term studies conducted by researchers and primatologists, contributing to our understanding of chimpanzee behavior, ecology, and conservation. Visitors may have the chance to learn about ongoing research initiatives and the efforts in place to protect these endangered primates.

Fishing in Lake Tanganyika:

Lake Tanganyika, one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater lakes, offers a unique opportunity for fishing enthusiasts. The crystal-clear waters are home to a rich diversity of fish species, including the famous Tanganyika sardine, Nile tilapia, and various species of cichlids.

Fishing excursions can be arranged, providing a chance to engage in the local fishing culture and try your hand at catching your own dinner.

Traditional Dhow Sailing:

Experience the beauty of Lake Tanganyika and its surrounding scenery from the deck of a traditional dhow. These sailing vessels offer a tranquil and authentic way to explore the lake. Glide through the calm waters, soak in the serenity, and marvel at the stunning landscapes as you sail along the shoreline.

Extension to Gombe Stream National Park:

For those with a keen interest in chimpanzees, consider extending your trip to include a visit to Gombe Stream National Park. Situated further north along Lake Tanganyika, Gombe is renowned as the research site of Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking studies on chimpanzees. This extension provides an opportunity to explore another chimpanzee haven and witness their behavior in a different setting.



Mahale Mountains National Park is a haven for nature lovers, offering a unique opportunity to witness wild chimpanzees in their natural habitat while surrounded by awe-inspiring landscapes. Prepare yourself for an extraordinary adventure that combines wildlife encounters, scenic beauty, and cultural immersion. Explore this pristine wilderness and create cherished memories of Tanzania’s remarkable biodiversity and natural wonders.