…maar we doen het toch.  Mahale NP

Allthough the locals we asked told us there is no road from Kigoma to Mahale NP, we decided to give it a try.

In Kigoma there are plenty of little shops, so we buy food for five days. Water is not going to be a problem since we are driving along the shore of Lake Tanganiyka.

We take a right, two kilometers after the railroad crossing and start driving south.  The gravel road is  surprisingly good. We need to take a ferry and see that the old ferry has retired and we can use the new one. It has capacity for 6 cars and cost TZS 6.500,-


Because there is no traffic at all, except some Boda Boda’s and bicycles we are not bothered by the usual red dust and we enjoy the scenery. The road is sometimes rockey but most of the te gravel with potholes. We buy some tomato in Sigunga village and from here there is a speedboat which brimgs you to Mahale NP if you want. We don’t and drive on.


We take our time and after we pass through Harembe village the road gets a bit worse. Another 3 km later we see a beautiful bounty beach and decide to stop here for lunch and a swimm.


We got warned that we should have some tough river crossings after Kapare/Msenga, but we’re surprised to see that their are to tall steel bridges.

The villages get smaller and now the only traffic we see are the locals walking on the road to get water. We enter Rukoma village and from there is no road anymore.

We drive on a walkway and have just enough width for our car. The grass has a kind of to spore track, so once in a while there must be a car passing through here.

After a river crossing, the river has 20 cm of water, we decided to spent the night on a hill near the Buhinay / Mugambo secondary school. The view is breathtaking. At three sites there is the lake and in the south we see the Mahale Mountains. The principal of the school introduces himself and we as a thank you we print him a little picture with the LG photo printer. He loves it.

The next morning he shows us “the way” to Tuungane office. This is the housing of the NGO’s; Frankfurter Geological Society, the Pathfinder and the Nature Conservation. This sounds allike a big building but it is really nothing. The people are very surprised that we are here with a car. They have a boat with a big sponsored motor and offer to bring us to the Mahale gate. But we decline and continue our way.

We drive very slow now and we have to ask the way every couple of humdred meters because there is no way. The local kids are yelling Mzungwe, Mzungwe and climb on our car.


We keep passing through little villages where the people are very friendly. The “road” leads us through Banana trees and palms. 

  It is so small now that it scratches our car. So do not go here with a rental.


Thanks to the help of a lot of locals and after we take two more river crossings we finally arrive at the Kalolwa Airstrip around 13:00 hours.

From here it is not possible to drive any further. There is a little village called Karilan, the last village before Mahale, but there is no way or path from there into Mahale. The last possibility to get in, is from this airport were we are now.

Allthough Nick only is 11 years old and the minimum age is twelve, they give us permission to enter. The men find we deserve this permit for all the effort we put in to get here by car. “Very unusual”.

Visitors normally only go to Mahale bij boat from Kigoma or by plane from Arusha, Mwanza or Dar es Salaam.

The boattrip takes 40 minutes and the roundtrip cost US$ 110,-   We stay a night at the Mango Tree Bandas.

This trip is uploaded to Tracks4Africa July 2015.

Ps: we tried to drive from here to Mpanda. There is a “road” through the mountains. Here for, you take a right just after the tall steel bridge, but after one hour driving we turned. The road are only rocks and we find it impossible to drive and turn around.
Feel free to write if you have questions about this road.