How to get to Mahale Mountain National Park
Mahale isn’t the easiest or even the cheapest tourist destination to visit. Basing on your tour itinerary, the point of entrance into the country will be at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) found in Arusha city, or Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in the capital city Dar es Salaam.
Usually the tour operator will collect you from the airport and then manage with your travel arrangements as per your earlier agreement. The alternatives include taking a direct chartered flight into Mahale or taking a scheduled flight into the Kigoma Airport (TKQ) and then from there take a chartered flight to the airstrip in Mahale. You can as well travel using a private motorboat that takes about 3 – 4 hours.
Airlines and ticket prices
You may check Skyscanner or, for those interested in flights to multiple destination you can check Expedia to find out which airlines is available to transfer you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) or to the Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and how much the tickets cost.
Domestic flights to Mahale Mountains National Park
Normally these charter flights are reserved by your safari / tour operator all as part of your safari package. You may make reservations for your Domestic flights with any of the domestic carrier such as: Air Tanzania, Precision Air, Regional Air, ZanAir, Safari Air Link, or Coastal Aviation
2 ways to go to Ngorongoro Crater
Difference between fly and go by a car is 76 km.
Mahale National Park FAQ's
- The park houses one of the largest populations of wild chimpanzees.
- Mahale has towering mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and lush forests. This gives a stunning backdrop for hiking and other outdoor activities.
- Mahale Mountains National Park offers a range of enjoyable outdoor activities, including hiking, trekking, fishing, and snorkeling.
- The park houses several communities of the Tongwe people, who have lived here for hundreds of years.
Mahale National Park is found in western Tanzania, bordering Lake Tanganyika.
In particular, the park is situated in the remote and rugged terrain of western Tanzania’s Kigoma Region, covering an area of approximately 1,650 square kilometers.
It encompasses the Mahale Mountain range, which rises to over 2,460 meters above sea level.
Yes, visitors to Mahale Mountains National Park are required to hire a guide. The park is a remote wilderness area with dense rainforest and rugged terrain, making it easy to get lost or encounter dangerous wildlife without proper guidance.
The guides are experienced and knowledgeable about the park’s terrain, wildlife, and ecology and can lead visitors on hikes to see the chimpanzees and other wildlife while ensuring their safety.
Ultimately, it is only permitted to venture into the park with a guide.
Yes, there are two campsites inside the park: Nkungwe and Malyango. Both offer basic facilities and a chance to experience the park’s remote wilderness.
Yes, Lake Tanganyika is safe for swimming, but visitors should know the potential for crocodiles and hippos in certain areas.
Swimming in designated areas and avoiding swimming in spots with a high vegetation concentration is recommended, as these spots may attract crocodiles and hippos.
Additionally, visitors should take appropriate precautions, such as avoiding swimming alone, swimming at night, or swimming while under the influence of alcohol.
Packing light, breathable clothing for hot and humid conditions and comfortable hiking shoes and insect repellent are recommended. Also, remember to bring your camera and binoculars!
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Mahale National Park
Set among the spectacular, forested slopes of the Mahale Mountains, the Mahale Mountains National Park was originally created to protect the thousands of chimpanzees that inhabit the region. It is renowned for its fantastic sunsets over Lake Tanganyika, which makes it an essential stop for keen photographers and safari enthusiasts.
Serengeti Trips Tanzania
Find all the transport options for your trip from Arusha to Ngorongoro Crater right here. We displays up to date schedules, route maps, journey times and estimated fares from relevant transport operators, ensuring you can make an informed decision about which option will suit you best.
Lodges and Tented Camps in Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale Mountains National Park
The most significant tourist attraction in the Mahale Mountains National Park is its resident population of chimpanzees. There are about 800 chimpanzees living inside this park, and close 60 of them have been habituated to receive human visitors. Your safari guide will lead you on a foot expedition along the trails in the forest as you search for them. The Mahale mountain eastern slopes are covered by a savannah and a woodland that are home to such as elephants, lions, wild dogs, roan antelopes, buffaloes in addition to giraffes, however they are hardly ever seen by visitors. On the other hand Warthogs are usually seen walking near the camp.
Wildlife In Mahale
Besides chimpanzees, there are 8 other types of primates that have been documented in this park and on a started visitor, guests may be able to see a minimum of 5 primate species among which are: vervet monkeys, yellow baboons, red colobus, red-tailed monkeys as well as blue monkeys.
Other species also living inside Mahale National Park include: bushbabies, porcupines, big squirrels, bush pigs among some others. Within the park, leopards have also been recorded although these are pretty challenging to see. Hippos as well as crocodiles may be spotted during your boat trips on River lubulumbu.
in the park there are about 230 species of birds among which are the crested marimba, the crowned eagles, trumpeter hornbills, scaly francolins, blue cheeked bee-eaters, crested guinea fowls as well as the big kingfishers.
The finest time for game viewing
In the dry season that starts in May to the end of October is the best time to tracking chimpanzees. During this season the chimpanzees normally live near the shores of the lake making it much easier to see them. The park remains open all year round however, during the heavy rains; some of the trails are challenging to traverse.
The park offers thrilling Walking safaris plus boat trips as well as treks to search for the chimpanzee families as well as other primates living inside the park. You can also go swimming, boating, snorkeling, trekking or even fishing, in addition to visiting the nearby fishing villages particularly Mwamgongo.
In case you are interested in chimpanzee trekking, this park is the best option during your stay in Tanzania as it will offer you the most rewarding views. So in case you have some spare time, it is worth dropping by the Mahale National Park for a unique enjoyable experience.
The park is well known for having some of the last surviving wild chimpanzees living in their natural environment. You can also remember this park from the remarkable research carried out by Dr. Jane Goodall, who performed an extensive research for about 40 years inside the park. It’s as well a nice opportunity to explore the renowned Lake Tanganyika since the park is found on the shores of this lake. Although this is the smallest national park within Tanzania, it is the sole destination on the planet where you will have guaranteed views of chimpanzee families.
Due to its location close to the equator, the climate of Mahale Mountains is warm and hot with high humidity. For most of the year, the weather remains the same. The evenings are usually warm, unlike the national parks found in the northern part of Tanzania, while the low temperatures drop to around 15°C or 59°F. The Average temperatures are around 25°C or 77°F in the day. Because of the altitude ranges (between 757 meters and 2474 meters / 2484 to 8117 feet), there are common Climactic variations. For each 100 meters you climb, the temps drop by approximately 6.5°C 3.5°F or each 1000 feet by 1000ft).
Mahale experiences a dry season starting in May to the end of October. Then the wet season continues in November up to April. In the afternoon they get some rains in the form of thunderstorms and these hardly ever rain for the entire day.
(May to October)
this is the finish of the wet season which occasional rains happening.
June, July, August and September
– it is sunny and the skies are clear with the afternoon temperatures rising to 26°C or 79°F. During this time it never rains and if it does the rains are minimal. The nights are coldest in month of June up to August with the temperatures dropping to 13°C/55°F.
– this is the end of the dry season. There will be some occasional rain showers.
(November to April)
November, December, January, February, March and April
– the humidity is high and this gives an uncomfortable oppressive heat, however it is somehow cooler during the wet season. it is not usual to rain for the entire day although there main be some showers in the afternoon in form of thunderstorms. The Afternoon temperatures are normally around 25°C or 77°F however at night theu may drop as low as 16°C or 61°F.
Guidelines for viewing Chimpanzees
Keep a distance of about 10 meters from the chimpanzees always. This reduces the chances of transmition of diseases from humans.
At all times wear the mask (provided by the guide) over your mouth plus nose when near the chimps.
DO NOT eat or even drink in the presence of the chimps.
DO NOT leave any personal belongings littered on the ground or in any place inside the park accessible to the chimpanzees. They are very curious animals so your belongings may transmit disease. In case you need help assistance lifting you bags, the guide will assist you.
DO NOT forget any rubbish in the park. It may be harmful to any wildlife species in the park or even transmit diseases to the chimpanzees.
In case you want to cough or even sneeze while in the vicinity of the chimps, please cap your nose plus mouth to minimize the spread of germs.
You are not allowed to visit the chimps in case you are sick or having an infectious disease. Please personally be responsible and inform the camp managers that you don’t feel ok. Once you visit them when sick, you are putting the health of the chimpanzees at risk. The manager will access and make the appropriate decision.
Those below 12 years are not allowed to visit the chimpanzees.
A maximum 6 visitors and one guide are allowed to reach close to the chimpanzees per each visit.
The maximum time for viewing the chimpanzees is one hour.
Best time to visit Mahale Mountains
Excellent time is: July, August, September and October
For good views you may visit in: June and May
For fair views you may visit in: January, February, March, April, November and December
You can track chimpanzees throughout the entire year in Mahale Mountains National Park, however, possibilities of finding them are better as the dry season come to an in which is from July to the end of October as the chimps are living on the lower slopes of the mountain. In case you are doing a 2 / 3 days safari package, then your chances of spotting them are pretty very high whatever time of the year you visit.
The best time to visit: July – October
Peak Season: July – October (it is rare for Mahale to become really crowded with tourists)
Low Season: April and May and most of the lodges are even closed
Best Weather Conditions: June to October there is no rainfall
Worst Weather conditions: November to April since it is the peak of the wet season
Dry Season (June to October)
Chimpanzees can be easily seen on the lower mountain slopes from the month of July up to October. There is a lot of Sunshine and chances of raining are very minimal. The danger of getting infected with malaria is pretty minimal since there are very few mosquitoes. Besides the other tourists you might come across while chimpanzee trekking, in general, this park is not very crowded.
Wet Season (November to May)
The air is clear as well as clean. The Waterfalls are beautiful to watch. Migratory birds are in the park making it the best time for bird watching. There are numerous Butterflies; the Forest trails are normally very slippery and challenging to traverse. The chimpanzees shift to higher slopes making it rather challenging to track and see. It becomes hot and quite humid.
The terrain of the park is mainly rugged and hilly, and is majorly dominated by the impressive Mahale Mountains ranges that stretch from the northwestern side of the park to the southeastern side. The highest peak on these mountain ranges is the Mount Nkungwe peak which stands at 2,462 meters above sea-level.
Ascending the highest peak of the Mahale Mountains – Mount Nkungwe is an additional adventure activity you can enjoy while in the park. The ascent takes three days to reach the peak, however the most advised time to climb to Mt Nkungwe is during the dry season from the month of May up to October. That aside, choosing to camp in the park for some nights will give you a chance to spot the spectacular ‘fishing fire’, where the numerous kerosene lamps on the small fishing boats light the Lake.
There are more than 250 types of fish in Lake Tanganyika with a number of the species not found in other parts of the planet. However most of the fish types can best be spotted while snorkeling in the shallow waters close to the shoreline of Mahale.
Longer walking trips may be arranged to see the large wild animals such as leopards, lions, buffaloes, hippos, elephants, as well as giraffes. Such long walking safaris may even take as many as seven days basing on your preference.
Birds in Mahale National Park
There isn’t a proper study done on the birdlife of Mahale National Park, however a minimum of 230 bird species have been documented here at the moment. The majority of them are actually forest birds, that are challenging to see. This is particularly true because walking inside the forest without guides is not permitted and yet all the guided walks are aimed at chimp tracking. From the beginning of November to April there are migratory birds in the park.
African fish eagle The Common
Vieillot’s black weaver
Crested guinea fowl
Crested guinea fowl
Vieillot’s black weaver
Best time for watching birds
In general, the birds here are numerous throughout the year; however the best time for watching the birds is from the start of November to the end of April. In these months the resident species begin Nesting and are in breeding plumage, as well as migratory birds coming from Europe or the northern part of Africa are present. From March up to April, the heavy rains make it really challenging to see the birds as the forest trails are really slippery. Chimp tracking is best enjoyed during the dry season, from May up to October, because then it is easier to see them.
Best parks for birding – including birding rating
All the renowned safari parks provide amazing opportunities for watching birds and also specials may easily be seen almost everywhere you go. Arusha National Park which is usually overlooked offers a wonderful variety of habitats and prides in an overwhelming list of approximately 400 species living within its small area. Also Lake Manyara presents a great diversity of water associated bird species.
Famous for being habitat to some of the few surviving wild chimpanzees on the entire African continent, this Mahale Mountains National Park that covers a total land area of 1,613 square kilometer was gazetted back in 1985. The park is located about 128km south of Kigoma town along Lake Tanganyika’s spectacular eastern shores. The park’s western boundary shelters a nearby 1.6 kilometer wide strip of the waters of the great Lake Tanganyika.
The Mahale Mountains NP together with the area around the park is the traditional homeland of the Waholoholo plus the Watongwe tribes. Back in 1961 a number of primate researchers coming from Japan began exploring the shores of the renowned Lake Tanganyika, found south of Kigoma town. The researchers in 1965 established their very first camp in Mahale Maountains – ‘Kansyana’ and began habituating chimp families.