Mahale Mountains National Park is home to some of the last remaining wild chimpanzees in Africa. Around 1,000 of these chimpanzees call this place home. The park is also endowed with a chain of dramatic peaks draped in lush vegetation falling to Lake Tanganyika’s beaches far below.
Visitors are led on guided walks in search of the chimpanzees, following clues such as the previous night’s nets high in the trees, or scraps of half eaten fruit and fresh dung. Once found, the chimpanzees clean each other’s glossy coats in concentrated huddles, squabble noisily or bound effortlessly into the trees, swinging nonchalantly through vines. In addition to a hike on the trail of the chimpanzee, visitors can trace the Tongwe people’s ancient pilgrimage to the mountain spirits, trekking through enclaves of rainforests to grassy ridges chequered with alpine bamboo.
After a hot walk in the forest, the clear waters of the lake, home to 250 species of fish, beckon for a refreshing swim. The best time for forest walks in Mahale is during the dry season, from May to October. The light rains of October and November present no real obstacle to visitors.