Mahale Mountains National Park lies 120 km south of Kigoma town, on a peninsula in Lake Tanganyika on the western border of Tanzania. The park has an area of 1613 sq km and is dominated by the Mahale Mountains Chain running from north-west to south-east across the middle of the park, the highest peak, Mount Nkungwe, rising 2,462 meters above sea level. It is one of only three protected areas for chimpanzees in the country. It is also the only place where chimpanzees and lions co-exist. Another unusual feature of the park is that it is one of the very few in Africa that must be experienced by foot. There are no roads or other infrastructure within the park boundaries, and the only way in and out of the park is via boat on the lake. The chimpanzee population in Mahale Mountains National Park is the largest known due to its size and remoteness.
Gombe Stream National Park is situated in the western border of Tanzania, and is easily accessible by boat from Kigoma town which is 16 km to the south. With an area of only 52 sq km, Gombe Stream is one of the smallest National Parks in Tanzania, comprising a narrow strip of mountainous country bounded in the east by the crest of the Great Rift Valley escarpment, and in the west by Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest and second deepest at 1400 meters deep. Gombe Stream, like its sister game park of Mahale Mountains to the south, is a park without roads, where you can experience nature on foot accompanied by the park guide. The park’s vegetation varies from the evergreen forests of tall trees to open woodlands and grasslands. The park’s most special feature is its chimpanzees, made famous by Jane Goodall’s study. Chimpanzees are classed as one of the worlds’s endangered species, and they are the primary visitors’ attraction in Gombe. Other common mammals found are forest species, mostly primates including baboons, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys and red colobus monkeys. There are more 200 species of birds in Gombe Stream National Park.