Gombe Stream National Park is famous as the site of Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking investigation into chimpanzee behaviour, the world’s longest-running study of a wild animal population.
It’s a great place to see chimps up close and personal as many of the family groups are habituated to humans. With the possible exception of Mahale Mountains National Park, no other park in Africa can offer such a magnificent experience with chimpanzees.
Although the chimpanzees are the park’s star attraction there are many other primates, including baboons, vervet monkeys, red colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and bush babies.
Being at the southern end of the Albertine Rift, Gombe is also a birding paradise – a crossover of East African savannah birds and West African forest species.
Gombe lies on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika and it is not accessible by road or by air. The easiest and cheapest way to visit Gombe is on a daytrip, using a chartered motorboat from Kigoma for the 16km journey to the park and to go on a guided forest walk – although anyone interested in chimpanzees would definitely want to stay a minimum of two days.
The Gombe Tented Camp, alluringly located on a northern beach, offers luxury accommodation in the park.
It’s a small park, only 52km2, so Gombe is a destination that is worth combining with the big game parks of the south and south-west – the Selous Game Reserve, and the Katavi and Ruaha National Parks – for an overall Tanzania safari experience.
The park’s geography is also stunning. Lined by 13 river valleys, and forming a narrow strip, it encompasses rolling hills of miombo woodland, which rise from the shores of Lake Tanganyika and eventually reach a height of more than 1 500m on the rift escarpment.