highlights and main attractions of gombe stream national park

At just 52 square kilometres, this fragile strip of land is the smallest of Tanzania’s national parks. Characterised by steep rich valleys veined with swift streams year-round, its fame stems from Jane Goodall’s research of chimpanzees which started in the 1960s and is still ongoing to this day – making it the longest running study of its kind in the world.

Gombe Stream National Park features a similar environment to Mahale - a sandy beach backed by the steep slopes and river valleys of vegetated mountains. Despite its size, there is still a good mix of landscapes, with rolling grasslands, evergreen and steep slopes covered in semi-deciduous forest. Bordered by Lake Tanganyika to the west and the high rift escarpment to the east, it has become a small isolated ecosystem and prime chimpanzee habitat. Gazetted as a game reserve in 1943, it was not until Goodall’s research began that it became a national park in 1968. 

The park is now a highly protected area and an economic way of seeing chimps in the wild.

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where is gombe stream national park?

wildlife and access

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.

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