Chimp safaris in Mahale Mountains National Park is one of the most exciting experiences we offer, designed to bring you up close to the mammals with whom humans have in common at least 95 percent of our DNA! Mahale's chimps have almost mythical status; this is one of Africa's most exceptional experiences. The park also includes Lake Tanganyika, the world’s second-deepest lake! This is home to roughly 250 species of fish. The white-sand beach and the clear turquoise waters are absolutely gorgeous, a joy to behold. During the dry season, the chimps tend to come close to the lakeshore and even all the way into some camps in the area! If you would prefer your safari to involve a 30-minute stroll into the rainforest rather than a 3-hour trek, you might like to consider traveling here between August and October. Of course, whatever the time of year, seeing the chimps is always a pleasure!
The chimpanzee M-group
There are about a thousand chimps living in Mahale Mountains, divided into groups. One group – known as the Mimikire clan or the M-group – is accustomed to the presence of humans, because they have been close to Japanese researchers for decades. In fact, this group of 56 chimps is so comfortable around their relatives, they will walk up to you and look you in the eye!
Other chimp behavior observed on treks includes rushing through the forest on a hunt, communicating with shouts and screams. In quieter moments, chimps like to groom each other, as well as squabble and forage. They have even been seen using twigs to fish for termites. Watching the youngest members of a group playing together is particularly rewarding! We highly recommend taking your camera, and also a good pair of binoculars so you can really make the most of your time – usually an hour – with these amazing animals.
You might have already enjoyed some superb safari featuring the Big Five and any number of predators and herbivores within Africa’s other national parks and game reserves. However, there really is something extra special about meeting the family in their natural habitat, the lowland forest of Mahale. It is a privilege to spend time in their company!
If this experience appeals to you, just get in touch with a member of our team! We are happy to offer advice on where to stay and when to travel, and we look forward to hearing from you.