The area is famed for the habituated chimpanzees, of which there are currently around 150. Their instantly recognisable pant-hoot call builds the excitement and you are likely to come within metres of these incredible animals. Sharing 98% of their DNA with humans, there is a feeling of understanding as you make eye contact, almost as if you are both knowing of the thin border between the two of you. Being prime primate territory, there are also beachcomber olive baboons, red-tailed colobus and vervet monkeys, which mainly stick to the forest canopy, save becoming dinner for the chimps. You may also spot bush pigs and elephants, as well as the occasional hippo. There have been rare leopard sightings too. There are over 200 bird species and for those interested in marine life, you can snorkel in Lake Tanganyika, among hundreds of colourful cichlids.
Closer to the local town of Kigoma (where you will find the small airport) than Mahale, it has easier access, although at the moment we do believe the standard of guiding is not as high here. Access is via boat from Kigoma where there are regular connecting flights from Dar es Salaam. We recommend you stay for two days to help ensure sightings of the chimps. During the wet seasons, from February to June and November to mid-December, the chimps tend not to venture as far, making spotting them a little easier. But for photographers, we recommend the dry seasons, from July to October and in late December.
Gombe Bush Camp is in the perfect spot, with views over Lake Tanganyika and the Congo Mountains.