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Mahale Mountains National Park is located on the unspoiled Western Tourism Circuit of Tanzania, on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika. It covers an area of about 1,600 square kilometers and was established in 1985. The park was named after the Mahale Mountains range that stands majestically within its borders.


Mahale Mountains National Park was primarily established to protect the populations of chimpanzees. It now hosts the largest known population of eastern chimpanzees, a sub-species of the common chimpanzee. The park’s size and remoteness have helped the chimpanzees thrive. Additionally, the park is also home to lions and chimpanzees, who coexist in the same area.


This awe-inspiring blend of lush greenery, blue Tanganyika water, white sands, and a haven of chimpanzees is less visited, but the experience it presents is magical. The park is difficult to access, with no roads or infrastructure within the park boundaries. The only way in and out of the park is via boat on the lake.


Tourists can opt for Greystoke Mahale, Mbali Mbali Mahale, or Lake Shore Lodge for accommodation. The best time to visit the park is during the dry season, between June and October.


The Mahale mountains were initially home to the Batongwe and Holoholo tribes of Tanzania. However, in 1979, when the Mahale Research Centre was set up, these people were relocated from the mountain for the park to be established. The Mahale National Park was officially opened in 1985.


The park’s habitats of alpine bamboo and woodlands, grasslands, and rainforests support about 50 species of animals. The park is home to Tanzania’s densest population of primates, including the yellow baboon, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, and red colobus. Other animals found in the park are giraffes, lions, zebras, antelopes, Lichtenstein hartebeest, hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species.


The park harbors around 1,000 chimpanzees, with one group of chimpanzees called the Mimikire Clan having around 56 members and has been familiar to researchers since 1965. Visitors on chimpanzee tracking are required to wear surgical masks provided by authorities as a precaution against diseases that may be transmitted from humans. There are limitations on the number of hours and visitors allowed to interact with them.


Lake Tanganyika is the longest freshwater lake, second deepest, and second oldest lake in the world. The lake is shared between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Zambia, and it empties its waters into the Congo River. The lake is also home to Nile crocodiles, hippos, and an array of fish species.


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