Nature in Mahale Mountains NP
Chimpanzee viewing code of conduct
Please read, understand and comply with the following Code of Conduct for chimpanzee viewing in order to ensure the health and well-being of the chimpanzees, as well as your own personal safety.
- Maintain a distance of at least 10 metres from the chimpanzees at all times. This minimizes the risk of you transmitting bacteria and viruses to them.
- Do not eat or drink while you are near the chimpanzees - move at least 250m away first.
- Do not leave personal belongings on the ground as chimps are curious animals and your belongings can transmit disease. If you need help in carrying bags, your guide will be happy to assist you.
- Do not leave any rubbish behind. It can be harmful to all kinds of wildlife and it can transmit diseases to the chimps.
- If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the chimps, please cover your nose and mouth to reduce the spread of germs.
- Try not to go to the toilet in the forest. If it is unavoidable, move at least 250m from the chimps and ask your guide to dig a deep hole.
- You are not allowed to visit the chimps if you are sick or have an infectious disease. Please seek advice from your camp managers.
- No person under the age of 12 is permitted to visit the chimps. This is for their own safety and because young people are more likely to transmit infectious diseases.
- No more than 6 visitors (plus one guide) are permitted close to the chimps at any one time. If another group is with the chimps when you arrive, please wait at a spot chosen by your guide, at least 250m away from the animals.
- Maximum viewing time is one hour. If the chimps are moving and viewing is interrupted, your time will be paused until they have been relocated, but tracking is not permitted for longer than 3 hours after the initial chimp sighting, even if the one-hour total has not been reached. This is to minimize disturbance to the animals and to the forest.
Mahale Mountains National Park is home to one of Africa’s most studied chimpanzee populations. The support that visitors give through payment of park entrance fees provides the Park with the means to safeguard and protect this unique population of chimpanzees and the beautiful forest that they inhabit.
Park rules and regulations
- Keep to the authorized trails.
- Do not disturb wild animals in any way. Do not make noise.
- Be considerate to fellow visitors – do not disturb them or the animals they are watching.
- Do not take any pets or guns into the park.
- Do not uproot, pick, cut or damage any plant or be in possession of any part of a plant indigenous to the park.
- Do not light any fire or discard any burning object.
- Do not discard any litter.
- Between 7.00p.m and 6.00a.m remain in the immediate vicinity of designated accommodation facilities (tented camps, tourist bandas, rest house or campsites).
- A permit is valid for single entry within 24 hours only.
Best time to visit the park
The dry season (mid-May to mid-October) is the best period in which to visit the park. During this period, chimpanzees are likely to be seen in big groups, the sunshine illuminates the fish in the Lake and the beach is an inviting place to relax. However, Mahale Mountains National Park is accessible all year round. A visit in the rainy season can also be a memorable experience, made remarkable by views of Congo across the water, and by incredible lightning storms that light up the lake at night.
Infrastructure and Communication
Mahale is accessible by air and boat only. However, there are several different flight and boat options, to suit most budgets and timeframes:
Direct flights to Mahale
This is the easiest way to reach Mahale. During the peak tourist season (June to October) the three tour operators with camps in Mahale schedule regular flights between the park and Arusha town. Between October and March flights arrive and leave twice each week. Only during March, April and the first half of May are there no scheduled flights, since the camps close for the heaviest rains.
It is also possible for visitors to arrange their own charter flights. Tanzania has a large number of charter flight companies (for example, Air Excel, Northern Air and Regional Air). Private charters can be arranged from Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar and visitors should expect to pay between $5 000 and $10 000.
The airstrip at Mahale is suitable for light aircraft only. The largest planes able to land can carry up to 12 passengers.
Travel to Mahale via Kigoma
Kigoma can be reached via several routes:
- By Air: Precision Air schedules daily flights from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma. The flight takes about 3 hours.
- By Road: Road provides accessibility to Kigoma, but it can be rough and impassable, especially in the rainy season. From Arusha it takes 2 or 3 days to reach Kigoma by car, and a 4-wheel drive vehicle is essential.
- By Rail: Trains from Dar es Salaam leave 2-3 times per week. The journey takes about three days and two nights.
From Kigoma, Mahale can be reached by boat or by light aircraft:
- Transport to Mahale by speedboats or timber boats from Kigoma can be arranged with the Park or private operators in Kigoma. The speedboats take between 4 and 6 hours to reach the park while timber boats can take up to 15 hours.
- A large steamship – MV Liemba – leaves Kigoma each week on a Wednesday afternoon, carrying passengers and cargo the length of the Lake to Zambia. It makes numerous stops along the way, including one for Mahale, which is referred to as Lagossa (the old name) or Mgambo. A Mahale Mountains National Park boat meets the Liemba each week and transfers passengers to park headquarters. The Liemba takes around 10 hours to reach Lagossa-Mgambo from Kigoma, and it passes Mahale again on its return journey each Saturday.
- Mahale is 45 minutes from Kigoma by light aircraft. A few safari companies offer private charter flights from Kigoma to Mahale and other National Parks in western Tanzania.
All tariffs are available here.
Chief Park Warden In-Charge
Mahale Mountains National Park
P.O. Box 1374
You can reach the Mahale Mountains National Park Headquarters on the following satellite-phone number: +8821 621 277 242.
There are five self-contained tourist bandas. Each banda has two rooms with twin beds, and a private bathroom. Kitchen facilities are available for self catering, and cooks can be hired locally to prepare meals. Bandas are suitable for students or other budget travellers.
For bookings, please contact: Mahale Mountains National Park, E-mail: sokwe@Mahale.org
Currently, the park has three luxury, tented camps owned and run by private investors: