Mahale National Park is home to some of Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees a population of roughly 800 (only 60 individuals forming what is known as “M group”), habituated to human visitors by a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s. 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.
The area is also known as Nkungwe, after the park’s largest mountain, held sacred by the local Tongwe people, and at 2,460 metres (8,069 ft) the highest of the six prominent points that make up the Mahale Range.
And while chimpanzees are the star attraction, the slopes support a diverse forest fauna, including readily observed troops of red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, and a kaleidoscopic array of colourful forest birds
Size: 1,613 sq km (623 sq miles).
Location: Western Tanzania, bordering Lake Tanganyika.
What to do: Chimp tracking (allow two days), hiking, camping safaris, snorkeling fish for your dinner.
When to go: Dry season (May-October) best for forest walks although no problem in the light rains of October/November