In Mahale National Park, you can trace the Tongwe people’s ancient pilgrimage to the mountain spirits, hiking through the montane rainforest belt – home to an endemic race of Angola colobus monkey – to high grassy ridges chequered with alpine bamboo.
Size : 3,230 sq km (1,250 sq miles). Location: South-West Tanzania, bordering Lake Tanganyika.
Then bathe in the impossibly clear waters of the world’s longest, second-deepest and least-polluted freshwater lake – harbouring an estimated 1,000 fish species – before returning as you came, by boat.
The highest peak in the Mahale range is at 2462m, and the only way to explore this park is on foot, there are no roads. There are between 1 500 and 2 000 chimpanzees in the park, making this one of the best places in Africa to get close to pan troglodytes. This is where successive teams of Japanese researchers, unheralded and quietly, have done some of the most important scientific work on primates and the links between chimpanzees and humans.
Besides the chimps, leopard, lion, kudu, eland, buffalo, roan and sable antelope, olive baboons, red colobus and white spot nose mangabeys and a host of other game wander through this reserve. Dominated by the brooding presence of Nkungwe Mountain with vegetation ranging through almost the entire gamut of African botany (from lowland forest to brachystegia woodland) this is one of Africa’s most intriguing parks. Accommodation (aside from the luxury tented camp) is in a elementary camp site with bungalows and camp site.