The Mahale national park, like Gombe Stream, is mainly a chimpanzee sanctuary but you won’t find it marked on most maps since it was only created in mid-1985.
It is on the knuckle-shaped area of land which protrudes into Lake Tanganyika about halfway down the lake, opposite the Zairian port of Kalemie. The highest peak in the park, Nkungwe (2460 metres), ensures that moist air blowing in from the lake condenses there and falls as rain. This rain supports extensive montane forests, grasslands and alpine bamboo. Numerous valleys intersect the mountains, and some of these have permanents streams which flow into the lake. The eastern side of the mountains is considered drier and support what is known as miombo woodlands. It is a very isolated area.
The animals which live in this park show closer affinities with western than with eastern Africa. They include chimpanzee, brush-tailed porcupine, various species of colobus monkey (including the Angolan black-and-white colobus), guinea fowl and mongoose. Unlike other national parks in Tanzania, this is one in many which you can walk around-there are no roads in any case. Very few tourists come here because of the remoteness of the area, but it is well worth it if you have the time and initiative and the best time to visit is from May to October.