Mahale Mountains National Park is home to some of Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees: a population of roughly 800 (only 60 individuals forming what is known as “M group”), habituated to human visitors by a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s. 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.
The area is also known as Nkungwe, after the park’s largest mountain, held sacred by the local Tongwe people, and at 2,460 meters (8,069 ft) the highest of the six prominent points that make up the Mahale Range.
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 colorful forest birds.
Best to know in Mahale National Park
Mahale is also home to some of the last remaining strongholds of chimpanzees in Africa.
In isolated rainforest some 1,000 of these fascinating primates roam the hills and valleys.
A trip to see the chimpanzees is a magical experience as your guide leads you deep in the forest, indicating last night’s nests, scraps of half-eaten fruit and fresh dung.
Suddenly you are amongst a family of them – preening each other’s glossy coats in concentrated huddles, squabbling noisily or bounding and swinging effortlessly through the trees and vines.
Other primates found in the Park are baboons and Colobus monkeys; and other animal species include elephant, buffalo, lion, giraffe, bushpig, and porcupine.
Large numbers of bird species include African snipe, green sand piper, and the crested lark.
Lake Tanganyika is home to some 250 species of fish in its clear waters