A chimpanzee climbing a tree in Mahale Mountains National Park

Safari Guide: Mahale Mountains National Park

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Niarra Travel

Setting off on a safari adventure is stepping into a realm where nature reigns supreme, and at Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania, this experience transcends mere exploration—it's a transformative journey.

Located where the shores of Lake Tanganyika converge with the forest blanketed peaks of the mountains, this park promises a rendezvous with untamed beauty brimming with a kaleidoscope of wildlife.

Whether you're taken in by the antics of chimpanzees or enraptured by the beauty of the landscape, this wilderness sanctuary promises a must-visit destination for discerning travellers seeking luxury and wilderness in equal measure.

A boat ride around Mahale Mountains National Park

The History of Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park was originally established as a protected area in 1965, when the government committed to preserving the habitat of the wild chimpanzee population. Over the years, it has evolved into a sanctuary for a plethora of varied wildlife species, captivating adventurers and researchers alike with its biodiversity.

The park's name pays homage to the indigenous Tongwe people, who have inhabited these lands for centuries. Their deep-rooted connection to the environment is reflected in the park's conservation efforts, which prioritises the preservation of both natural heritage and cultural traditions.

Chimpanzees in Mahale Mountains National Park

Best Time to Visit Mahale Mountains National Park

The allure of Mahale Mountains National Park beckons visitors year-round, with each season offering a unique spectacle of sights and sounds. Understanding the nuances of the park's wet and dry seasons can help to enhance your safari experience.

Dry Season - May to October

Average Temperature - 15°C - 25°C

Average Daily Rainfall - 19mm

This period, characterised by clear skies and cooler temperatures, is ideal for wildlife enthusiasts. With vegetation being more sparse, animals congregate around water sources, providing fantastic opportunities for game viewing. This time of year, is best for forest walks because the dry season is when chimpanzees are more likely to be seen in big groups, or ‘troops’.

A chimpanzee in the forest foliage

Wet Season - November to April

Average Temperature - 16°C - 28°C

Average Daily Rainfall - 174mm

As the rains descend upon Mahale, the landscape undergoes a remarkable transformation, and begins bursting with greenery. While travel may be more challenging during this time, the rewards are abundant as lush foliage envelops the park, creating an idyllic setting for birdwatching and witnessing the vibrant hues of tropical flora in bloom.

Visitors to Mahale Mountains National Park climbing a gorge

Chimpanzee Trekking in Mahale Mountains National Park

At the heart of the safari experience here lies its most illustrious residents - the Mahale Mountains National Park chimpanzees. Renowned for their intricate social structures and impressive intelligence, these primates offer a window into the complexities of the natural world.

Embark on guided chimpanzee treks through dense forests, where the rustle of leaves may herald an encounter with these enigmatic creatures in their natural habitat. Coming up close to these close relatives’ hulking figures and witnessing the intricacies of their complex social structures unfold in front of you is an awe-inspiring experience.

Mahale Mountains National Park chimpanzee viewing regulations:

  • You must maintain a 10-metre distance from the chimpanzees at all times

  • Do not eat or drink when near the chimpanzees

  • Do not leave personal belongings anywhere on the ground

  • You must wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you are 50 metres or closer to a chimpanzee

  • You must not visit the chimpanzees if you are sick or have an infectious disease

  • No person below 12 years of age is permitted to visit the chimpanzees

  • No more than 6 visitors are permitted close to the chimpanzees at one time

  • The maximum viewing time is one hour

Chimpanzees are highly susceptible to most human diseases as they share 98% of our genes. Ensuring that you follow these regulations will help to protect the wellbeing and safety of the chimpanzees.

Chimpanzee foraging on the forest floor, seen on a chimpanzee trekking trip.

Wildlife in Mahale Mountains National Park

Beyond chimpanzees, the park teems with a diverse array of fauna, from the playful antics of colobus monkeys to the imposing presence of buffalos. The park offers short and long walking safaris within a network of strategically positioned natural trails which provide a wide range of choice to visitors.

Keep your binoculars poised for sightings of bush buck, red tailed monkeys, and red duikers, each contributing to the tapestry of life that thrives within the Mahale's boundaries.

Mahale mountain also provides you with the physical challenge of attempting to summit the peak. Taking nine hours to climb to the top, the hike offers you unbelievable views of the park from its heights, as well as an incredible close-up display of diverse wildlife.

Aerial view of the Mahale Mountains

The best lodge in Mahale Mountains National Park

After a day of exploration, retreat to the embrace of relaxing luxury at Greystoke Mahale.

Set against a backdrop of azure waters and verdant forests, Greystoke Mahale epitomises sustainable luxury. Greystoke’s thatch bandas were built from materials sourced from the local area, including repurposing wrecked and retired dhows and canoes purchased from nearby villages.

Each secluded banda boasts panoramic views of Lake Tanganyika, inviting guests to unwind in serene seclusion after a day of adventure. Indulge in gourmet cuisine crafted from locally sourced ingredients, accompanied by the gentle lull of waves caressing the shoreline.

If you're passionate on planning a trip to Mahale Mountains National Park imbued with purpose and adventure, get in touch with our expert travel team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US) or at explore@niarratravel.com to forge memories to last a lifetime and contribute to the preservation of the Mahale Mountains’ pristine wilderness for generations to come.

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