Shortly after dawn, you set off into the mountain forest’s dappled sunlight on foot. Through tumbling woodland, past streams strewn with vines and jasmine flowers, to where the chimpanzees romp and commune.
The Mahale Mountains National Park is an idyllic lost world. This ever-green nirvana on the shores of Lake Tanganyika is home primates, bushbuck, bushpig, leopard, and more birdlife than you can imagine. The undoubted highlight of a visit here is hiking deep into the mountain forests to view one of Africa’s largest populations of wild chimpanzees. Few other places offer the chance to encounter these animals undisturbed in such proximity.
Through half a century of careful study and selected habituation, one family has allowed human access into their daily lives. For conservation purposes, only one chimp trek is permitted per full day, with 1 hour allowed in their company. Trekking times vary, and each group has a maximum of 6 people making this a personal experience.
Follow your adventure with a cruise around the lake on a traditional dhow sail boat. Take the plunge and enjoy some deep-water swimming and wildlife spotting, before sundowners are served. Then its time to head back to the white-sand beach for dinner under a starlit sky.
For the ultimate getaway in western Tanzania, we recommend combining Mahale with Katavi National Park, and there are scheduled charter flights between the two for easy access.