Gombe Stream National Park Tanzania
Gombe stream national park, located on the western border of Tanzania and the Congo, is most famous for Jane Goodall, the resident primatologist who spent many years in its forests studying the behavior of the endangered chimpanzees.
Situated on the wild shores of Lake Tanganyika, Gombe Stream is an untamed place of lush forests and clear lake views. Hiking and swimming are also popular activities here, once the day’s expedition to see the chimpanzees is over.
Gombe Stream’s main attraction is obviously the chimpanzee families that live protected in the park’s boundaries. Guided walks are available that take visitors deep into the forest to observe and sit with the extraordinary primates for an entire morning — an incredible experience and one that is the highlight of many visitors’ trips to Africa. Besides chimpanzee viewing, many other species of primates live in Gombe Stream’s tropical forests. Vervet and colobus monkeys, baboons, forest pigs, and small antelopes inhabit the dense forest, in addition to a wide variety of tropical birdlife.
An excited whoop erupts from deep in the forest, boosted immediately by a dozen other voices, rising in volume and tempo and pitch to a frenzied shrieking crescendo. It is the famous ‘pant-hoot’ call: a bonding ritual that allows the participants to identify each other through their individual vocal stylizations. To the human listener, walking through the ancient forests of Gombe Stream becomes a spine-chilling outburst which is also an indicator of imminent visual contact with man’s closest genetic relative: the chimpanzee.
Gombe is the smallest of all Tanzania’s national parks: a fragile strip of chimpanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that hem in the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Its chimpanzees – habituated to human visitors – were made famous by the pioneering work of Jane Goodall, who in 1960 founded a behavioral research program that now stands as the longest-running study of its kind in the world. The matriarch Fifi, the last surviving member of the original community – that was only three-years-old when Goodall first set foot in Gombe – is still regularly seen by visitors.
Size of Gombe Stream National Park
52 sq km (20 sq miles), Tanzania’s smallest national park.
Location of Gombe Stream National Park
16 km (10 miles) north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania.
How to get to Gombe Stream National Park
Kigoma is connected to Dar and Arusha by scheduled flights, to Dar and Mwanza by slow rail service, to Mwanza, Dar, and Mbeya by rough dirt roads, and to Mpulungu in Zambia by a weekly ferry.
From Kigoma, local lake-taxis take up to three hours to reach Gombe, or motorboats can be chartered, taking less than one hour.
Things to do in Gombe Stream National Park Tanzania
Chimpanzees share about 98% of their genes with humans, and no scientific expertise is required to distinguish between the individual repertoires of pants, hoots, and screams that define the celebrities, the powerbrokers, and the supporting characters. Perhaps you will see a flicker of understanding when you look into a chimp’s eyes, assessing you in return – a look of apparent recognition across the narrowest of species barriers.
The park’s 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s twinspots that hop tamely around the visitors’ center.
After dusk, a dazzling night sky is complemented by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats, bobbing on the lake like a sprawling city.
The most visible of Gombe’s other mammals are also primates. A troop of beachcomber olive baboons, understudy since the 1960s, is exceptionally habituated, whereas the red-tailed and red colobus monkeys – the latter regularly hunted by chimps – stick to the forest canopy.
Hiking in Gombe Stream National Park
Travelers can take a hike on some small trails along Lake Tanganyika as they search for small things like birds, insects and appreciate the view of the endless Lake Tanganyika
For swimming in particular, always check with locals which areas are considered safe to swim and which not. Lake Tanganyika is also a well-renowned venue for freshwater angling with the sheer number of fish in the lake rivaling the variety of species.
Scuba or snorkel within Kigoma is organized by George Qazumbe and he is based at Aqua Lodge or the small row of buildings outside on the main road. His trips are great and he is one of the few people that know all of the fish. Researchers that do fish work in the lake use him as their guide as well.
Visit the site of Henry Stanley’s famous “Dr. Livingstone I presume” at Ujiji
Visit the site of Henry Stanley’s famous “Dr. Livingstone I presume” at Ujiji near Kigoma, and watch the renowned dhow builders at work.
When to visit Gombe Stream National Park
Trekking chimpanzees in Gombe National Park can be done throughout the year, but the odds of finding them quickly is better towards the end of the Dry season, from July to October. This is when the chimps tend to stick to the lower slopes. In the Wet season, it might take three to four hours to locate the chimps. The only private lodge in the park is closed in March-April.
Where to Stay in Gombe Stream National Park
Our best choice in Gombe is the Mbali Mbali lodge which offers fantastic views of Lake Tanganyika
Mbali mbali Gombe Lodge
- Location: Lake Tanganyika, Western Tanzania
- No of rooms: 7 forest tents – children of all ages welcome, for chimp trekking they have to be 15yrs of age minimum.
- Style: Rustic luxury
- Highlights: Lake Tanganyika is mind-blowingly beautiful – water sports and lake cruiser
- Dining: Dining overlooking the Lake and at different locations on the island
Mbali means Far Far Away! This is exactly what you will be when staying at Mbali Mbali Gombe. This small intimate camp hides on the shores of Lake Tanganyika underneath the shades of ancient forest trees.
This is one of the only camps in the Gombe Stream National Park made famous through Jane Good all are fantastic chimp research. At Mbali Mbali Gombe you can be sure to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and completely immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the surrounding forest and lapping waves of one of the deepest lakes in the world.
THINGS TO DO
|Chimpanzee trekking in Gombe stream NP|
|Birding safaris at Gombe stream NP|
|Primate walks in Gombe stream NP|
|Hiking trips at Gombe stream NP|
|Fishing safaris IN Lake Tanganyika|
|swimming in Lake Tanganyika|
|Visit Kigoma fishing Village|
|Snorkeling in Lake Tanganyika|
|Visit Livingstone’s museum and Memorial|
HOW TO GET THERE
|How to get to Gombe stream National park|
|3 Days chimpanzee trekking in Gombe stream national park|
|4 days Chimpanzee and Lake Tanganyika safari|
|5 Days Luxury Gombe stream chimpanzee safari|
WHEN TO VISIT
|Best time to visit Gombe stream national park|
WHERE TO STAY
|Gombe forest lodge|
|Mbali Mbali Gombe Lodge|