Overview

The western Kigoma Region in Tanzania is the location of Gombe Stream National Park, opened in 1968. Gombe is actually Tanzania’s smallest national park, at 20 square miles. However, its limited space doesn’t mean it doesn’t benefit from varied terrain and a wide diversity of fauna and vegetation. At Gombe National Stream Park, you can admire tropical rainforest, but also alpine bamboo and even grassland.

Python snake devouring a small gazelle shutterstock_255814612

Highlights

  • +Wide variety of primates that can be seen, including Kasakela chimpanzees, vervet monkets, red-tailed monkeys and olive baboons
  • +Snorkeling in Lake Tanganyika
  • +Hiking
  • +Swimming in Lake Tanganyika
  • +Chimpanzee trekking
Interested in visiting the Gombe National Park?
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About Gombe National Park

The Gombe Stream National Park has achieved fame in the past thanks to Jane Goodall’s research on chimpanzees. We’re talking about the Kasakela chimpanzees, known to the general public from documentaries and books published on the research conducted here on the community.

But that is far from being the only reason tourists love coming here. It’s the incredible diversity that Gombe has to offer which keeps attracting people and why they come back again and again. The variety of primates, the beautiful scenery, as well as the many different types of wildlife (from bushpigs to snakes to birds and monkeys) are the main points of interest that will be sure to amaze you.

Humankind has always been fascinated with chimpanzees and with good reason – they share so much of our genetic material, that it’s uncanny. It was precisely this fascination that prompted Jane Goodall to make her trip to Gombe Stream and study the behavior of chimpanzees, of which Fifi is still alive and can be seen by tourists.

Apart from the ubiquitous chimpanzees, Gombe Stream National Park also hosts other primates, such as red colobus monkeys, as well as red-tailed monkeys and olive baboons that can sometimes be seen by careful and attentive visitors. In addition to its variety of primates, the park is also the home of snakes (11 species) and as much as 200 species of birds, including twinspots and fish eagles.

However, wildlife is just a part of Gombe’s irresistible attraction. Lake Tanganyika is also an important spot where visitors can not only swim as much as they like, but they can also go snorkeling and admire the breathtaking sea life down below. Dozens of species of colorful fish can be seen here as you swim among the banks of amazing creatures.

White pelican shutterstock_60415366
Baboon - Wildlife Reserve in Tanzania, Africa shutterstock_249155083
Bright bird on a branch. Tanzania. An excellent illustration. shutterstock_260741750
Solitary Ostrich shutterstock_50792266

Getting There

You can get to Kigoma via one of the flights from Arusha and Dar. Alternatively, there are also trains available from Mwanza and Dar. Mbyeua, Dar and Mwanza can also be accessed by rough dirt roads, while Kigoma is connected to Mpulungu, Zambia, by a ferry that operates weekly. Gombe can be reached from Kigoma via motorboat, with a journey time of an hour (or less) or a lake-taxi, which will take around three hours.

When to Go & Weather

  •   Best
  •   Good
  •   Fair
  •   Poor
  • February-June, November-December: these periods are better for viewing chimps, because they are wet seasons and this means that they won’t go out as far, making them easier to spot. During daytime, temperatures average at 25°C, while nighttime ones average at around 15-16°C.
  • July-October, 2nd half of December: the dry season is significantly better for scenery and taking clear, quality pictures. The temperatures during this time average at about 27-30°C during the day and 15-16°C overnight.

Female Eastern chimpanzee with her young infant in natural habitat shutterstock_211217371

Additional Information

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History

Jane Goodall, the highly-acknowledged British researcher, began studying the surroundings Kakaombe Valley in 1960. As a result, Gombe National Park was firstly established in the year of 1968. One year before that, in 1967, the Gombe Stream Research Center was set up. The National Park is situated in the eastern proximity of Lake Tanganyika, which is 15 km north from Kigoma. It is accessible only by boat.

Gombe National Park’ research activities were based on developing research concerning the behavior of the Kakombe community of the eastern chimpanzee. In the 1970s, studies concerning various species of baboons started. Gombe National Park encompassed studies that were based on the central and northern parts of the park. A total of the park population was assumed at an appreciative number of 150. Afterward, other communities were included – the Mitumba community, for example, which was introduced in the 1990s.

Before the 1990s, the species of chimpanzees were not entirely isolated. Still, given the restriction of gene flow, this measurement was taken, and the population of the National Park was encircled. Thanks to the establishment of this National Park, a wide range of useful information regarding chimpanzee behavior, and the striking similarities between humans and these species were established. More exactly, chimpanzees share 98 percent of their genes with humans; no wonder we are so attracted to primates.

Wildlife & Flora

Gombe National Park is one of the smallest in Tanzania. Still, it holds the population of various species of chimpanzee, which are actually the main attraction of the park, as you already know. These chimpanzees are the sheer results of the pioneering research conducted by Jane Goodall. As you will stroll around the park, you will, hopefully, catch a glimpse of the red-tailed and red colobus monkeys, which are rather unusual primate species. As chimps normally hunt the red colobus monkeys, you are more likely to observe the former ones in the forest’s canopy.

Concerning bird diversity, there are at least 200 species of birds dwelling the Gombe National Park. Pay attention to flying fish eagles and palm-nut vultures.

If you’re lucky, you can catch a glimpse of a leopard or a bushbuck that also dwell in this National Park as well. Fingers crossed.

Goodall’s findings indicate that primates can develop affection between their communities, while, later on she also noticed signs of violence and aggression. Her conclusion was that, similar to humans, primates have a darker character side.

Ecology

The variety of wildlife and flora in Gombe National Park is, unfortunately, threatened, as a result of the human invasion. The tragic reality is that the wildlife population is diminishing. In this respect, hunting seems to be a local issue that is yet to be addressed.

The Jane Goodall Institute has collaborated with other programs to determine the local communities to become part of Gombe’s conservation plans. The representatives of the local communities ought to team up with these conservation programs, as their contribution and interest to protect the environment are of great importance. The monitoring of the natural resources is also a necessary measure that ought to be taken into account for conservation reasons.

For achieving these purposes, the TACARE program focuses on working with the women in Gombe. This aspect is of particular importance, as they have a very significant influence on the future development and education of the children in the region. If women are aware of taking the necessary conservation measurements, their children are more likely to grow into conscious, reliable individuals, who will comprehend the importance of maintaining the region.

Since 2003, thanks to the support of the U.S Agency for International Development, the Jane Goodall Institute and other local institutions have contributed to an appreciative sum of $7 million to conservation programs of the region and Gombe National Park.

The main problem concerning the decrease of a wildlife population is triggered by the necessity of the villagers to hunt, as a means of survival. Villagers either hunt the animals for food or for safety reasons, as there are cases in which they reach their communities.

Interesting Facts

  • The best part about opting for visiting Gombe National Park is that the chimps are habituated, which means you will be able to watch their behavior as you please, they won’t mind, they know how we are related, don’t they? Trekking to catch a glimpse of the chimps is definitely one of the perks of Gombe. If you’re a photography enthusiast, this is the perfect place for you, as you’ll have plenty to photograph. The chimps are mainly curious creatures.
  • The untouched beaches and the pristine surroundings certainly count for the charm of the region, and will make your experience unforgettable. Gombe National Park is the ideal location for an African primate safari.
  • The data gathered by Jane Goodall was utterly helpful for providing useful amounts of information concerning research about primates’ communities, their behavior and the way in which they are similar to humans in many respects. In the same direction, Goodall’s research also contributed to enhancing the design for other similar protected areas.
Interested in visiting the Gombe National Park?
Take a look to our hand-picked tours that go there!

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