This is absolutely the best place in the world for tourists to view wild chimpanzees – primarily a chimpanzee sanctuary, although not all areas of the park are accessible to tourists.
The Mahale Mountains lie on Lake Tanganyika on the far western border of Tanzania and provide a beautiful, misty backdrop to the park. This remote park occupies an area of 1500 square miles, rising up from the lakeshore through tropical forest to 1800 metres. Many valleys intersect the mountains, some of which support permanent streams flowing into Lake Tanganyika.
The park is home to nine species of primate, including some 700-1000 chimps, which live in troupes of about 50. There are numerous species of animal in the Park, which include the elusive leopard, buffalo, elephant , forest antelopes, leopard , baboon, Colobus monkeys and a great variety of butterflies and birds including Livingstone's turaco, helmeted Guinea fowl and Crowned Hawk Eagle.
There are no roads or cars for sixty miles. Such is the pristine nature of this environment that travel is only possible by boat or on foot.
Aside from chimp tracking which is the main attraction of Mahale, the Lake Tanganyika shore is pristine and offers one the opportunity to relax by the shore, snorkel, kayak, take a boating trip or a fishing excursion on Lake Tanganyika. The crystal clear waters of Africa's deepest lake make for fabulous snorkelling and diving expeditions -little wonder this lake is a haven for freshwater aquarium cyclids with new species of fish continually being discovered.
Gombe Stream National Park is situated on the shores of Lake Tanganyika , near the border with Burundi
Gombe was created to protect the chimpanzees that are native to the area. The park is set against the backdrop of the stunning Mahale Mountains . It is renowned for fantastic sunsets over Lake Tanganyika and Eastern Zaire which makes it an essential stop for the keen photographer. The habitat combines rain forest, grasslands, alpine bamboo and Woodland . The best time to visit is between May and October.
Gombe Stream National Park was the site of Jane Goodall’s famous account of the chimpanzees in their natural habitat. It is the smallest of Tanzania ’s national parks occupying an area of only 52 sq km and is currently home to just over 150 chimpanzees. The other primates found in the park include: baboon, red colobus, red-tail, vervet monkey and blue monkey. Other animals you are likely to encounter are bushbuck, baboons, bush pigs and a variety of birdlife including the pied and giant kingfishers, the crowned eagle, the African broadbill, Ross's turaco and the trumpeter hornbill. . It is recommended that one spends a minimum of 2 days in the park to allow for adequate time to observe the chimpanzees, another day to enjoy the birdlife and other wildlife as well as time to enjoy the spectacle of the beautiful landscape.
Travel from Kigoma to Gombe on expeditious boats. The journey takes approximately 35 minutes to an hour depending on the type of boat used and weather and lake conditions. The boat journey is most exhilarating, passing through fishing villages and scenic hills before reaching the park. During morning departures you have the opportunity to see fishermen returning in their boats after a night of fishing.
CLIMBING TO KAKOMBE & MKENKE WATERFALLS
Kakombe and Mkenke are two spectacular waterfalls found within Gombe National Park. Kakombe is approximately a 30-minute walk from camp, and Mkenke around a one-hour climb. You will often pass these falls when tracking Chimpanzees. Chimpanzee tracking usually begins after breakfast in the mornings returning to the camp for lunch. In the afternoon there are many optional excursions, depending on how energetic you feel. Choose between further Chimpanzee tracking, walking on the beach, swimming, fishing and snorkelling. It is also possible to visit local fishing villages close to the park and get first hand experience of life in a typical African village.
This is the main town in Western Tanzania , offering a variety of transport links with other cities and towns in Tanzania.
This is also the main gateway to the parks and other sites in Western Tanzania . There are a number of flights from Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro. There are also a number of private charter flights available directly to airstrips in the popular parks.
Kigoma is the Western Province of Tanzania and it is a laidback and attractive little town. The streets are lined up with small stores and street traders. Touring around the fish markets, shops and stall keeps you occupied for the day.
There are a number of excursions one can undertake whilst in Kigoma (over one or two days). For instance, one can explore the town with a Moonlight Cruise on the Lake at night! During the tour, you are treated with a fine full course meal on the boat. Prior bookings are required for this cruise, and it can only be done when the Lake weather conditions are favourable.
It was to Kigoma that the legendary steamer, the MV Liemba, was brought by rail by the Germans during the World War I, which was assembled there and used as a military expedition ship against the British forces.
It is the last place that Europe and America sent an emissary to trace the whereabouts of the great Scientist, Missionary and Explorer, Dr Livingstone. One can take a tour of the town to include a visit to Dr Livingstone’s Memorial.
This is the main tourist hotel in the town, situated in a peninsula overlooking Africa ’s deepest lake, Lake Tanganyika . There are thirty cottage style air-conditioned rooms and 20 executive rooms. All have en suite facilities, TV and telephone. All rooms are self-contained and equipped with air-conditioning, satellite TV, a refrigerator, direct dialling telephone. The rooms have a balcony with view over Lake Tanganyika . The suites are blended with an extra living room; TV in both living room and bedroom.
From Kigoma excursions to Gombe and Mahale and onto the Lake can be arranged through advance booking.
Tanzania’s third largest park (45pp sq kms) and one of its most unspoiled and isolated wildlife areas.
Located in pristine wilderness in Western Tanzania, Katavi has amongst the largest buffalo herds in Tanzania and it is also noted for great numbers of hippo and crocodiles. Katavi is one of the few remaining places where one can observe the roan and sable antelope. There are lots of other wildlife including Topi, Zebras, Impalas, Wildebeest, Eland, Waterbuck and more, making Katavi a haven for predators like Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and even the endangered Wild Dogs. Birds of over 400 species have been identified in the park especially around Lake Katavi and Lake Chada – the parks two main lakes. Birdlife that can be regularly seen around these lakes includes Plovers, Sand grouse and the Spurring wing Goose.
Katavi National Park was established in 1974 and is one of the most remote, vast, natural and pristine parks in Africa, third largest national park in Tanzania. The park is located in southwest Tanzania, east of Lake Tanganyika in the Mpanda district, Rukwa region. Katavi combines well with chimpanzee trekking and Lake Tanganyika holidays in Mahale and Gombe.
The landscape is dominated by two seasonal lakes called Katavi and Chada, along with miombo woodland, grass plains to the north, riverine vegetation, Mlele escarpment and the waterfalls of Chorangwa, Lukima and Ndido.
The rainfall pattern is bimodal, with short rains in November and December, and longer rains in March through May. The park is open throughout the year but is best to visit in May and October, and mid December to February.
The easiest way of getting to the park is via small, shared or private chartered flights, and a trip to Katavi may be combined with a visit to Mahale mountains national park over 7 nights.
This is a little park covering the whole of an uninhabited island in the middle of Lake Victoria , Africa’s largest fresh-water lake and one of the sources of the Great Nile.
Strictly speaking, Rubondo is in North-western Tanzania, but for want of a better space and in keeping with the fly-in safaris akin to Western Tanzania , we have placed this page in this section.
Rubondo Island , in the southwest of Lake Victoria , is one of Tanzania ’s smallest National Parks and occupies an entire island in Lake Victoria. The 240 square km island, also known as “The Jewel of Victoria”, provides a unforgettable experience for visitors, including the main island and 11 smaller islets, combining the breathtaking natural beauty of a forest refuge with the relaxing tranquillity of sandy lake -shore beaches.
The Island is some 28 km in length along the north-south axis and between 3 and 10 km wide. Lake Victoria covers 68,000 square kilometres and is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest in the world – comparatively it is twice the size of The Netherlands. There are NO vehicles on Rubondo – the island is untouched by pollution from modern day transportation or commercialisation, and one of the only places that offers a truly ecological break. Rubondo Island boasts a unique diversity of flora and fauna. Only here can the visitor be sure of seeing Sitatunga and have the chance of observing small gangs of chimpanzees. Other mammals frequently seen include hippos, otters, bushbucks and vervet monkeys. Rarer sightings are genet, colobus, marsh mongoose and suni antelope.
An outcrop of rocks amidst scattered trees provides the perfect setting for the restaurant and bar, offering a splendid view of the lake and bay. A swimming pool is located conveniently close to the bar, among the palm trees. During the day the lake is usually calm, but when the wind picks up in the late afternoon the waves roll in, carrying in the singing sounds of the sea. Rubondo’s climate is comfortably warm all the year round and never gets as hot as on the coast. Enjoy its clean air –there is no traffic on the island.
Rubondo is a paradise for bird-lovers, with nearly 430 species documented on the island. The diversity of habitats, from open woodland to papyrus swamps and evergreen forest, together with its geographical location in the heart of Africa , attracts numerous resident and migrant species. The island has an abundance of herons, storks, egrets, ibises, cormorants, kingfishers, flycatchers, bee-eaters, hornbills and birds of prey, including the highest density of fish eagles anywhere in the world.
The alternative is to travel by road from Mwanza to pier and then boat transfer (not very regular).
Each of the ten units overlook the lake, a view which may be enjoyed from the seclusion of a private terrace and just a few yards from the sandy lakeshore. The comfortable large tents have windows on all sides and, instead of the common zips, an entrance door.
A spacious en suite bath- and dressing room has been constructed for each banda. Great care has been taken to use local natural building materials.
This is the main hub and large town just south of Lake Victoria , offering a range of accommodation and various transport links to other main cities and towns in Tanzania.
It is possible to fly to Mwanza from Dar es Salaam , Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Kigoma and Nairobi as well as other smaller airports.
It is just 15 kilometres from the Ndabaka gate in Western Serengeti , and 125 kilometres north of Mwanza. Speke Bay is part of Speke Gulf , named after the famous explorer John Speke, who, in 1858, discovered Lake Victoria to be the source of the Nile . Embraced by savannah, the Lodge looks like a small village, stretched out along the shores of the lake. The main buildings and luxury accommodation are round in form, built to perfection, painted white and thatched with a grass roof in the traditional style of the local tribe, the Wa-Sukuma.
Since the Lodge is outside but close to the Serengeti National Park , it is the ideal place to start or end your safari, or relax during your travels. Many of our clients spend a couple of nights here in between a safari in Western Serengeti (staying at either Mbalageti Tented Camp or Kirawira Tented Camp in Western Serengeti ). This makes a fabulous add-on to a safari in the north of Tanzania.
Excursions in boats and on mountain bikes are offered, so you can truly experience Africa; you can fish from the beach for Tilapia, go out in a boat to catch Nile perch, or wander around on the Lodge's 100 hectares of savannah, looking for birds
Speke Bay offers three different types of accommodation to suit all budgets and requirements:
There are 8 bungalows situated along the lakeshore. Each bungalow is a separate structure designed to ensure privacy. The roofs are thatched with a thick layer of grass, providing excellent insulation. An entrance hall gives access to a bathroom and a spacious main room. This room has a sleeping area with a large lockable cupboard (for your clothes and valuables) and a writing table. The sitting area has a huge French window opening on to a bougainvillaea- and passionflower- shaded veranda where breakfast can be served. Each bungalow has a loft with two twin beds, making them suitable for families with children. The bathroom has a large table with a build-in basin, a spacious shower and a hygienic wall mounted toilet. All the appliances and fittings are the best on the market. For hot water solar panels are used, but thermostat steered electrical elements have been installed, for use on cloudy days. The water system is state of the art, with a large sand filter, UV-treatment, and Ozone-injection. Bottled drinking water is available .
LUXURY TENTED CAMP
The tented camp consists of nine tents, each covered by a thatched roof, which also creates a private and shady sitting area. The tents are fully furnished and contain two beds; hot showers and toilets are close-by.
For tour-groups on a camping safari, a natural site is reserved. Alternatively there is the option of using the tented camp. The owners reserve the right to keep the numbers small, so as not to endanger the high standards of the camp. Tailor made activities can be organised if the groups stay at least two nights. Tour operators can contact the Lodge for more details.
ACTIVITIES AT SPEKE BAY
There are a number of different excursions from mountain biking, fishing and sailing to bird watching and canoe trips to nearby fishing villages.
Website : http://www.spekebay.com/
The rooms have been designed with complete decorative interiors, that assures you of high class accommodation. Each of the 40 rooms & suites equipped with a colour TV, telephone, air conditioning, safe, and Internet access.
Hotel Tilapia with the African Queen houseboat at the rightThe Teppanyaki Restaurant at Hotel Tilapia