Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale, in wilderness terms, has it all: a unique combination of forests, mountains and lakes supports an amazingly diverse range of fauna. Leopard, warthog, giant squirrel, brush tailed porcupines along with at least nine species of primates are just some of the larger mammals found here. The abundant birdlife includes the Crowned Eagle, Scaly Francolin, Crested Guinea Fowl, Ross’ Turaco and the globally threatened, endemic Nkungwe Apalis. Commercial fishing is prohibited along the park's shoreline, affording protection to some 350 known fish species of the lake. Mahale National Park lies 120 km south of Kigoma and is 1,613 sq km in size.
Dominated by Nkungwe peak (2,462 m above sea level), and with 14 different vegetation zones ranging from the lakeshore to Nkungwe summit, makes it one of Tanzania’s most diverse and dramatically distinctive national parks. The park is a unique ecological zone: the meeting point for three different types of vegetation more characteristic of western Africa than East Africa. Lowland forest and moist savannah dominate the west and north, miombo woodlands and dry savannah are found in the east and open woodland characterises the south. In the northern montane forest unusual species are found alongside the elephant buffalo, leopard and bushpig, these include Sharpe’s grysbok, bushbuck, blue duiker, brush-tailed procupine, red-legged sun squirrel and a wide variety of primates including olive baboon and black & white colobus.
Mahale Mountains is home to some of Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees: a population of over 1000 Chimpanzees in Mahale. The ‘Mimikere’ community of about 70 individuals live in a territory including our camp. This group has been studied by members of Kyoto University of Japan since 1965 and as a result the Chimpanzees are accustomed to the presence of humans. 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