Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale National Park is a national park in Tanzania that lies on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika in Kigoma Region. The park was named after the Mahale Mountains range that is within its borders and it covers an area of about 1613 square kilometers. Mahale National park has several unique characteristics that is; it is one of the only two protected areas in Tanzania with chimpanzees and it harbors the largest population of eastern chimpanzees but they end up flourishing due to the park’s size and location (remoteness), it is nearby Gombe stream National park which was made famous by the researcher Jane Goodall. Uniqueness about Mahale National park is the fact that it is one of the parks that can be experienced by foot since there are no roads or any other infrastructure within the park boundaries but rather the only way in and out of the park is via the boat on the lake.
Attractions in Mahale National park in Tanzania
Mahale National Park is endowed with a numerous attractions including mammals, primates, birdlife, Lake Tanganyika, mountain ranges and others.
Primate species: Mahale National park hosts about 1000 of Africa’s remaining chimpanzees where some of them are habituated for tourism. Chimpanzees are one of the major attractions at the park. Besides chimpanzees, Mahale National park is a home to other eight primate species and about five of them are likely to be encountered during the visit to the park. Among the other primates include; red colobus, blue monkeys, yellow baboons, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys and others.
Wildlife: Mahale National park is a home to a number of mammal species and also predators. View the different animals in the eastern slopes of the parks like elephants, roan antelopes, water bucks, bush bucks, lions, buffalos, wild dogs and others.
Bird species: Mahale National park records over 350 bird species and a number of them are forest birds. Bird experience is done throughout the year but the best time is November to April where the migratory birds from Europe and northern Africa are around. Among the birds in the park include giant kingfisher, African fish eagles, crested guinea fowl and others.
Mahale mountain ranges: Mahale mountain ranges are one of the most spectacular places in the world with various huge peaks and steep slopes with montane and middle-attitude forests. They are situated in the western Tanzania along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Among the peaks on the range of Mahale national park include mount Nkungwe which is a mountain with seven peaks- Sisaga, Humo, Sibindi, Mfitwa, Nkungwe, Mhesabantu, and Pasagulu.
Lake Tanganyika: Lake Tanganyika is the second deepest lake in the world with about 1,470 meters. The lake is also the second largest lake by volume and the world’s longest freshwater lake. The lake habitats a variety of aquatic wildlife like over 1,000 fish species and crocodiles. Enjoy different activities at the lake like kayaking, sport fishing, swimming, boat safaris, snorkeling and others.
What to do in Mahale National park
A number of visitors come to Mahale national park for chimpanzee trekking safaris but the park offers other variety of enticing activities like mountain hiking, safari walks, kayaking, swimming, sport fishing, cultural tours and others.
Chimpanzee trekking: Mahale is considered as one of the best places in Africa to see the wild chimpanzees. This activity of chimpanzee trekking is basically the great reason why a lot of travelers visit Mahale National park. Chimpanzee trekking is an interesting experience though requires some bit of fitness since it involves moving to the forests in search of the chimpanzees from their habitats.
During the experience, only a group of six people is allowed to meet the chimps at any one time and each group is given only an hour a day with the chimps. The experience is not allowed for persons under the age of 12 and anyone with any illness and its best considerably during the dry season.
Mountain hiking: A hike to the highest peak in Mahale mountains-Mt. Nkungwe is one of the most interesting activities done in the park and it is done under the guidance of the ranger guide. Remember to move with your own camping gear and food in case you are to trek. The best time for climbing is during the dry season (May-October) and it requires a high degree of fitness.
Bird watching: Mahale National Park is a home to a variety of bird species both residential and migratory. The parks hosts over 350 bird species including; giant kingfisher, hornbills, Ross’s turaco, crested guinea fowl and others.
Sport fishing: This is a pleasure activity done on Lake Tanganyika and it is done when the lake weather is calm between 7am and 5pm. It is done by travelers with fishing permits and an experienced tour guide in fishing is required.
Among other activities include cultural tours, kayaking, and boat cruising.