Destinations

Gombe Stream National Park

An whoop from deep in the forest.

Gombe Stream National Park, 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 ‘pant-hoot’ call: a bonding ritual that allows the participants to identify each other through their individual vocal stylisations.
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.
Gombe is the smallest of Tanzania’s national parks: a fragile swath of chimpanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that line the sandy north shore of Lake Tanganyika.
Obag Safari & Beach - Gombe Stream National Park
Its chimpanzees – habituated to human visitors – were made famous by the pioneering work of Jane Goodall, who founded a behavioral research program in 1960 that is now the longest-running study of its kind in the world.
Matriarch Fifi, the last surviving member of the original community, who was just three years old when Goodall first set foot in Gombe, is still seen regularly by visitors.
Chimpanzees share about 98% of their genes with humans, and no scientific expertise is required to distinguish between the individual repertoires of pants, hoots and screams that define the celebrities, the powerbrokers, and the supporting characters.
Perhaps you will see a flicker of understanding when you look into a chimp’s eyes, assessing you in return – a look of apparent recognition across the narrowest of species barriers
The most visible of Gombe’s other mammals are also primates. A troop of beachcomber olive baboons, under study since the 1960s, is exceptionally habituated, while red-tailed and red colobus monkeys – the latter regularly hunted by chimps – stick to the forest canopy.
The park’s 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s twinspots that hop tamely around the visitors’ centre.
After dusk, a dazzling night sky is complemented by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats, bobbing on the lake like a sprawling city.
Obag Safari & Beach - Gombe Stream National Park
Obag Safari & Beach - Gombe Stream National Park

Destination overview

Gombe Stream National Park

About Gombe Stream National Park

size: 52 sq km (20 sq miles), Tanzania’s smallest park.
location: 16 km (10 miles) north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania.

Getting there

Kigoma is connected to Dar and Arusha by scheduled flights, to Dar and Mwanza by a slow rail service, to Mwanza, Dar and Mbeya by rough dirt roads, and to Mpulungu in Zambia by a weekly ferry.
From Kigoma, local lake-taxis take up to three hours to reach Gombe, or motorboats can be chartered, taking less than one hour.

WHAT TO DO

Chimpanzee trekking; hiking, swimming and snorkelling;
visit the site of Henry Stanley’s famous “Dr Livingstone I presume” at Ujiji near Kigoma, and watch the renowned dhow builders at work.

WHEN TO GO

The chimps don’t roam as far in the wet season (February-June, November-mid December) so may be easier to find;
better picture opportunities in the dry (July-October and late December).

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