In the remote Mahale National Park, wild chimpanzees have made the mountain forests near Lake Tanganyika their home. There are no roads in this national park, people can only reach the park by foot or travel along the coast by boat. The chimpanzee have been habituated for many, many years by a group of researchers from Kyoto University. Their efforts have made it possible to get extremely intimate and up close with the chimps. Spend time in close proximity as you watch playful primates interact, eat, and move through the wilderness.

Beyond the chimpanzees, Mahale is also home to varied bird life as well as other smaller primates. Relax on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and enjoy kayaking and other water activities in this piece of paradise.

Chimp trekking is quite unlike any of the more traditional forms of Safari. Here you are on your feet throughout the day and in awe-inspiring forests unique to the country.

When you find the chimps you are often in close proximity to them (sometimes they pass within a few feet of you) and because they’re habituated, they more or less ignore you. The length of the trek can vary greatly – The Chimps are sometimes literally at the back of the camp and other days they are nowhere to be seen – but on average you should expect to walk for about 2 –3 hours on well-defined paths in the forest, with occasional scrambling down less defined animal tracks. The pace set by the trackers is steady and aimed at the slower members of the group. You need to be reasonably fit, but many people find that the steep and sometimes slippery descents are more of an issue than the actual physical exertion.

Your time with the chimpanzees is limited to 1 hour per day and face masks must be worn to prevent the transmission of human diseases to the chimps. Besides the chimps, there are squirrels, porcupines, two types of mongoose, antelope, blue duiker, yellow baboon, and the vibrant black-and-white colobus monkey. The bird variety is impressive and there are plenty of colorful butterflies as well!

There are about a thousand chimps living in the 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!