Gombe National Park | Tanzania Parks
Gombe National Park
Gombe Stream is one of the best places in Africa to track chimpanzees. First researched in the 60’s by Jane Goodall, the primates are remarkably habituated. The project now ranks as the world’s longest running study of any wild animal population. The experience is one that you are unlikely to forget.It is a thin strip of ancient forest set in mountainous cut with steep valleys clinging to the shores of Lake Tanganyika.The park major attraction is obviously the Chimpanzees that live protected within its boundaries.
Tourist to this area will be able to do chimpanzee trekking, hiking and go to the waterfall and guided walk in the forest or along the lakeshore. The park is dominated by many steep sided ridges and valleys. This is where you will be on foot if you have come to see the chimpanzees.The scenery of Gombe is stunning with most of the 16 major valleys containing swift steams, which flow all year.
The Gombe Chimps are one of the most closely and continuously studied populations. Sharing more than 98 percent of our genes, it’s a look of recognition from our closest animal relative.The majority of the mammals in this National Park are primates, most of them forest species. Likely to be seen, in addition to the famous chimpanzees are the colorful red-tail and blue monkeys.
I booked my safari holiday through Serengeti trips. They were the most helpful company I have ever dealt with and I work within the travel industry. I had the most amazing time. The holiday went as clockwork with no hitches anywhere.
Daear William, Just to let you know we had a great adventure at Gombe Stream National Park. All went well. Saw chimps every day and lots of them on first and last day.
When to Visit Gombe
Gombe is best visited during the dry season, which stretches from June to October. In the dry season there is very little rain or none at all, with plenty of sunshine, although later in the year a fine haze can impede viewing conditions. There are few mosquitoes about, especially during the day. Chimps generally stay on the lower slopes during the dry period and are easier to find. Sometimes they can even be seen close to the camps or wandering along the sandy shore. In intermediate periods, conditions are widely variable but generally tolerable and well worthwhile because of other incentives.
From November to April the wet season causes problems due to rain. Access is difficult and the trekking is slippery. During the months of March and April lodges and accommodations close for maintenance.
Visits during off-season don’t offer much financial advantage. Travel is expensive and the logistical costs increase as access becomes more difficult. The Gombe park fee is the same year-round and it’s almost twice the cost of other parks in Tanzania such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Manyara etc.
Getting to Gombe
Travelers can take a domestic flight to Kigoma airstrip from where they will take a boat ride to reach the national park. There are flights from Dar es Salaam (daily) or a shared charter flight from Arusha that flies twice a week. Set aside at least 4 days (1 to get there, 1 to return and at least 2 full days actually in the park). You can add Gombe to our range of Tanzania safari holidays, but it will take up the lion’s share of most trips. Given how special the chimpanzee population is here, many consider this more than worth it.
Activities on your Gombe Safari
The main attraction of Gombe Stream is clearly the families of chimpanzee that live protected within the park’s boundaries. Guided walks that take visitors deep into the forest to observe and sit with the extraordinary primates for an entire morning are available — one that is the highlight of many visitors’ trips to Africa and an incredible experience. Besides chimpanzees, other primates living within Gombe Stream include beachcomber olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, red colobus, and vervet monkeys. Blue monkeys and red-tailed monkeys have also been known to hybridize in the area. There are occasional hippopotami, leopards, and 11 species of snakes. The park is also home to bush pigs and over 200 bird species.
However, Lake Tanganyika is also a wonderful place to go snorkeling and swimming, fishing, sailing or just relax on the white sand. Hippos and crocodiles tend to keep their distance from Gombe which means visitors can take a dip in the lake without having to worry about sharing the water with wild animals.
While at Gombe, a visit to the Goodall Foundation’s old feeding station should be on the list of things to do and the nearby village of Ujiji is where Henry Stanley met Dr Livingstone in 1871.
Where to Stay in Gombe National Park?
In Gombe Stream National Park, there are no luxurious top of the range, primate-focused lodges. Mbali Mbali Gombe offers a small, uniquely personalized base for your African primate travel experience in a beautiful setting between lake shore and mountain, with comfortable and spacious accommodations that combine the airy comfort of safari tents with the permanence of solid-timbered decking and thatched roofs. Since Mbali Mbali Gombe is the only proper tourist-focused primate accommodations, it tends to book up months and even a year in advance in the peak season, particularly for groups of more than two travelers. However, there is never a crowding problem at Gombe as there are rarely more than 15-25 tourist visitors at a time in the entire park.
In stark contrast, if you are looking for inexpensive accommodations in Gombe, you’ll be left to your own devices at the TANAPA-owned Gombe Bandas, the only backpacker hostel-like option available, which offers very basic and questionable accommodations, with shared toilets and showers plus limited ethnic canteen food.
It takes a great deal of effort and money to go on a chimpanzee safari in Tanzania, but if you go, it’s something you’ll never forget or regret. As Jane Goodall explained in her research, books and talks, the time she spent with the chimps ( who, as mankind’s nearest cousin share 98% of our genetic coding), enriched both her personal life, her understanding of our own behavior and our place in the natural world among a wider, boundless universe.
Best Safari tours in Gombe
Gombe Stream is one of the best places in Africa to track chimpanzees. First researched in the 60’s by Jane Goodall, the primates are remarkably habituated. The project now ranks as the world’s longest running study of any wild animal population. The experience is one that you are unlikely to forget.
Gombe’s chimps are the main attraction, but the park is also home to a troop of habituated olive baboon that can usually be found on the lakeshore.
There are several other monkey species present, including red colobus monkey, which are sometimes hunted by the chimps.
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 ‘panthoot’ 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, this spine-chilling outburst is also an indicator of imminent visual contact with man’s closest genetic relative: the chimpanzee