Mahale Mountains National Park lies on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Kigoma Region, Tanzania. The park got this name after the Mahale Mountains range that is within its borders. The park has several unusual characteristics.
First, it is one of only two protected areas for chimpanzees in the country. (The other is nearby Gombe Stream National Park made famous by the researcher Jane Goodall.) The chimpanzee population in Mahale Mountains National Park is the largest known.
Due to its size and remoteness, the chimpanzees flourish. It also the only place where chimpanzees and lions co-exist. Another unusual feature of the park is that it is one of the very few in Africa that must be experienced by foot.
There are no roads or other infrastructure within the park boundaries, and the only way in and out of the park is via boat on the lake. The Mahale mountains were traditionally inhabited by the Batongwe and Holoholo people.
When the Mahale Mountains Wildlife Research Center was established in 1979 these people were expelled from the mountains to make way for the park, which opened in 1985.
In addition to being one of the best places in the world for up-close encounters with chimpanzees, Mahale Mountains National Park, nestled on the Lake Tanganyikan shoreline in western Tanzania, is absolutely stunning.
Forested mountains cascade down to the lake shore, the mist-covered peak of Mount Nkungwe rises up in the background and crystal-clear waters teeming with fish lap against white sand coves.
The park, Tanzania’s most remote and one of its most alluring, is first and foremost a chimpanzee sanctuary.
About 1700 chimpanzees live within its 1613sqkm area, but the focal point for visitors is the 60-strong Mimikere, or ‘M’ group, which has been the subject of research for more than four decades.