Gombe National Park

Home to the Chimpanzee

There are truly wild places in Tanzania, Gombe National Park is one of them. The nature value of Gombe was noticed in 1943 when it was designated as a game reserve. Gombe gained its popularity after the pioneering research activities of Dr Jane Goodall in 1960 which is believed to be the longest running study of primates in the world. Conservation status was upgraded to that of a National Park in 1968 and opened for tourism in 1978 after chimpanzee habituated to human visitors. It is located 16 km north of Kigoma town on the shores of the world’s second deepest Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania with an area of 56 square kilometers.

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

Animals in Gombe Stream National Park

Gombe’s high levels of diversity make it an increasingly popular tourist destination. Besides chimpanzees, primates inhabiting Gombe Stream national park include beachcomber olive baboons, red colobus, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, and vervet monkeys. Red-tailed monkeys and blue monkeys also hybridize in the area. The park is home to over 200 bird species and bushpigs too. And you can find many species of snakes and occasionally hippos and leopards.

Things to Do in Gombe

Chimpanzee Trekking

Head out on a guided forest walk to catch a glimpse of our closest relative, as well as up to 82 other wildlife species that call the parks home. Approximately 150 chimpanzees live in the park. A chimp sighting is never guaranteed. However, with experienced guides, the chance is good. Once you have located the troop, you will have up to one hour to observe them. You will need a permit for chimpanzee tracking, and at the time of writing, a chimpanzee permit for Gombe National park is the cheaper option at $100

Sundowners on Lake Tanganyika

One of the most popular evening activities is climbing aboard a dhow (traditional boat) and joining the crowd of lantern-laden dug-out canoes heading out to fish for the evening

Onboard, you can enjoy romantic sundowners and watch the sunset over the lake on a 1.5-hour tour

Diving and Snorkelling

Lake Tanganyika is a great spot for diving and snorkelling. The water is a consistent 25 degrees Celsius year-round, and visibility in the dry season goes as deep as 20 m. The lake is teeming with vibrant and colourful cichlids. 98% of the 250 known cichlid species are present in this lake. Most diving takes place close to the shores, so it is great for beginners and intermediate divers.

You’ll be with a local expert. It’s important to note that there are crocodiles, hippos and Bilharzia in some areas of the lake, so going with a local professional is essential. Several other water sports activities may be available through your accommodation, including kayaking, wakeboarding, and water-skiing.

Attractions in gombe

Gombe wilderness worth a year round visit; enabling you to cruise along part of the historical inquisitiveness way back in the 19th century when Livingstone and Stanley searched the source of River Nile. Rainy season is the best chimpanzee sporting while the green vegetation blooms providing an astonishing scenic view and waterfalls are at the best (November to Mid- May) while dry season provides a chance for best photo taking , short and long hike(May to October).

Getting There

From Dar es Salaam the best way to get to Gombe Stream National park is by domestic flight to Kigoma.  There are daily scheduled flights, and they take approximately 2 hours. From Arusha, only shared charter flights are available, and they operate twice a week. Driving is not recommended due to the rough terrain and long distances.  Trains and buses are also available but can take up to 2 days if travelling from Dar es Salaam and are not recommended for people who like the luxury and comfort of travelling in business class.

Once you have arrived in Kigoma, lake taxi’s and private boats are the only way to reach Gombe Stream National Park. Lake Taxi’s take approximately 4 hours from Kibrizi beach, just north of Kigoma. This takes approximately costs 10,000tsh ($5), but don’t be afraid to haggle within reason. Private charters are the most comfortable way to travel, and you won’t be confined to times that the lake taxis/ferry runs, However they can cost upwards of $200. 

For something a bit different, The MV Liemba, a 100-year-old ‘indestructible warship’, travels between Tanzania and Zambia as a passenger ferry ever other Wednesday on a five-day trip, and stops at Gombe.