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Tanzania National Parks >>Mahale National Park

Mahale is one of Tanzania’s most remote parks, situated directly on Lake Tanganyika, with the misty and rugged Mahale Mountain range running down its centre. The Mahale Mountains National park is described as quite simply one of the most beautiful parks anywhere in Africa”. The park is located in one of the remote locations in Tanzania, on the western border with the Congo, against the dramatic shores of Lake Tanganyoka.
A reasonably, albeit somewhat glib, poted description of Mahale Mountains National Park is that it resembles a grand-scale version of Gombe Stream. Another might be that it is quite one of the most beautiful national Parks anywhere in Africa. As it is, the setting is scenically eminiscent of one of a volcanic island beach resort somewhere deep in the Indian Ocean, and with the added bonus that these forests are inhabited by the greatest number of primate species of any Tanzanian National Park. Set on a mountainous Knuckle that juts intoLake Tanganyika, the park is dominated topographically by the Mahale Range.

The altitude range of mahale is reflected in its wide variety of habitata, with a floral composition that reflects a unique combination of influences associated with the eastern savannah, western rainforest and southern Miombo woodland biomes. And while chimpanzees are the star attraction, the slopes support a diverse forest fauna, including readily observed troops of red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, and a kaleidoscopic array of colourful forest birds. The eastern slopes of Mahale support savannah and woodland species such as elephants, lion, African hunting Dog, roan antelope, buffalo and giraffe.
Mahale Mountains, like its northerly neighbour Gombe Stream, is home to some of Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees: a population of roughly 800, habituated to human visitors by a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s.

Getting there:
Charter flights can be taken from Arusha, Dar or Kigoma to Mahale Mountains National park. There is also the National Park motorboat from Kigoma, three to four hours. Weekly steamer from Kigoma, seven hours, then hire a local fishing boat or arrange with park HQ for pickup in park boat, another one or two hours. 

What to do
Chimp tracking:
Tracking the chimps of Mahale is a magical experience. The guide's eyes pick out last night's nests - shadowy clumps high in a gallery of trees crowding the sky. Scraps of half-eaten fruit and fresh dung become valuable clues, leading deeper into the forest. Butterflies flit in the dappled sunlight.

Hiking: You can trace the Tongwe people's ancient pilgrimage to the mountain spirits, hiking through the montane rainforest belt – home to an endemic race of Angola colobus monkey - to high grassy ridges chequered with alpine bamboo. Then bathe in the impossibly clear waters of the world’s longest, second-deepest and least-polluted freshwater lake – harbouring an estimated 1,000 fish species - before returning as you came, by boat. 

Best time to visit:
Dry season (May-October) best for forest walks although no problem in the light rains of October/November.


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