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 Islands Information

Place: Tanzania - Mahale Mountains - Eastern Zaire

The Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains in Tanzania
By Ian Williamson

Nestled deep in the rift valley, in the remote inaccessible west of Tanzania are the Mahale Mountains. This area offers a protected environment for thousands of chimpanzees. These mountains are truly spectacular and are famed for there striking sunsets over Lake Tanganyika and Eastern Zaire.

The habitat combines rain forest on the steep mountain slopes. There are also grasslands, alpine bamboo and woodland. The best times to go to this area are from May until October.

This small park is half way up Lake Tanganyika and below Gombe Stream National Park. It is reportedly one of Tanzania’s least visited parks. It has no roads and although small in comparison to the other parks you could spend a life time exploring this fascinating area.

Lake Tanganyika is great for snorkeling and boasts ninety species of cichlid and also presents suburb opportunities for walking and photography safaris. Apart from the chimpanzee and yellow baboon there are many other animals in the area including many monkeys such as red tailed, savannah, Sykes monkeys. There are also colobus monkeys (both red and black & white) and to watch these monkeys move through the trees and hear there evocative calls echo through the forest is a memorable experience.

The area is remote and flying into the area is the only real option. Rail services across Tanzania toward the lake region are not reliable and are very slow. Accommodation tends to be basic with a few, usually expensive options if you are looking for something a little luxurious. Some tour operators from Tanzania operate tours and have their own tented camps. There is also Kigoma Hilltop Hotel which is a specialist in Chimpanzee safaris to Gombe and Mahale National Parks; they have a Luxury Tented Camp at Mahale.

Although the nearby Gombe Stream National Park is more famous, and Mahale tends to be largely ignored the primate population in Mahale Mountains is more numerous and sightings of chimpanzees tend to be more regular and prolonged.

Observing the chimpanzees in their natural habitat is a moving experience. Although this area is remote, a chimpanzee safari to Mahale Mountains National Park is well worth the effort. Hikes to their habitation areas are accessible and not strenuous, although being in good physical condition will ease the strain of walking through the jungle. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This destination although remote means that your African experience is all the more genuine.

For more information on Tanzania and chimpanzee safaris visit and also for tourism and cultural issues see – Using tourism to change lives.

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