Only 100 kilometres south of where Henry Morton Stanley uttered the immortal words, “Dr. Livingstone I presume” sits the Mahale Mountains National Park. Covering an area of 1,613 square kilometres, the park includes a vast stretch of tropical forest that meets the pale, sandy shores and clear waters of Lake Tanganyika in far western Tanzania. Herein, lays a rare opportunity to combine intense safari with an exceptional beach holiday, on the shores of the longest and second deepest fresh water lake in the world.
Inaccessible by road, only reached by air and boat, the park is a completely isolated sanctuary. It is primate heaven, showcasing the blue cluster monkey, red-tailed monkey, red colobus and black and white colobus, however, the chimpanzees steal centre stage. More than 800 of these extraordinary apes reside here, and a selected group has been the topic of one of the longest research programmes in the world. Since the early 1960’s a team from the University of Kyoto has observed these chimpanzees in the wild providing unbelievable research-based insights into the world of man’s closest relative. Mahale provides an unparalleled opportunity to witness chimpanzees in their natural environment. Chimp tracking through the forests ranks among the most magical of wildlife experiences - colourful butterflies, endless amazing plant species, eye catching forest birds and the sights and sounds of everyday chimp life.
Mahale is, of course, more than just forest. Lake Tanganyika’s vast body of unpolluted fresh water supports a bewildering array of endemic fish species, mainly from the Cichlid family. Envisage taking a morning hike in the forest, spending the afternoon boating or kayaking on the lake and then sleeping, Robinson Crusoe style, to the lullaby of lapping water.
Mahale is one of Tanzania’s best kept secrets – time enjoyed beside a lake resembling an ocean, skirted by jungle - it is easy to imagine this to be a deserted island and tempting to stay forever.