Mahale National Park 365

Covering around 1 600 square kilometres of dense, mountainous rainforest rising from the sandy shores of Lake Tanganyika, this is one of the least visited and most beautiful parks in Africa.

It’s also one of the best places to see chimpanzees – the park is home to a large group of chimps that has been the focus of some groundbreaking research, making them relatively habituated to human presence and therefore easier to watch.

Not your typical safari experience, a trip to Mahale will likely involve plenty of chimp trekking and primate sightings, with the addition of possible encounters with various species of antelope and the occasional lion and leopard (you’re more likely to hear them than see them). The only way to explore the park is on foot along walking trails through the lush vegetation, and across rivers and past waterfalls. Wildlife viewing in Mahale is less about the Big 5 and more about the variety of other species and exceptional plant and insect life to be found in the dense forests.

Getting to Mahale National Park can be more arduous than to other reserves in Tanzania. Access to the park is either by boat or air – which accounts for the low volume of visitors. A visit here makes a great combination with one of southern Tanzania’s other safari reserves, such as Selous Game Reserve, Katavi and Ruaha National Park.