Gombe Stream National Park – A Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Gombe Stream National Park was made famous by Jane Goodall who took up residence here during her Chimpanzee research in the 1960s. The park covers 52 sq km and is located 20 km north of the Kigoma region on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The park is comprised of grasslands, alpine bamboo, woodlands, steep valleys, and tropical rainforest.
The park has 35 mammals with the Kasakela Chimpanzee Community as the main attraction at the park. There are about 100 chimpanzees in the park. Other primates include blue monkeys, olive baboons, red colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and vervet monkeys. Wildlife in the park includes bush pigs, hippopotami, various snakes, small antelope, and leopards. There are around 250 species of birds for birdwatching to pursue.
Things to do at Gombe Stream National Park
- Chimpanzee Tracking into the remote jungle. Chimpanzee communities include Kasakela, Kahama, Kalande, and Mitumba groups.
- Nature walks and Hiking Safaris to Mkenke and Kakombe Waterfalls. There are magnificent views of the rift valley escarpments to the west of Lake Tanganyika.
- Kayaking in Gombe Stream National Park
- Sport fishing with a catch-and-release method – about 300 fish species.
- Snorkeling and Diving for about 3 hours.
- Boat cruises with the luxury boat or speedboat and feel Lake Tanganyika’s breeze while savoring a view of the Great Rift Valley slope.
- Birding with over 250 bird species in Gombe national park. Bird species include the African Fish eagle, paradise flycatcher, Tropical boubou, Livingstone’s turaco, African broadbill, double-toothed barbet, crowned eagle, and Golden-rumped tinker bird. The best time for bird watching in Gombe national park is from November to April as the migratory birds flying from Europe and the northern part of Africa arrive.
- Cultural Tours at Mwamgongo Village, a women’s cultural group. Experience traditional dance performers, and local arts and crafts displays of pottery, fabrics, weavings, and many more.
Where to stay at Gombe Park
Gombe Forest is situated on the shores of Lake Tanganyika within Gombe Stream National Park, well hidden in the trees with magnificent views of the deep blue waters of the Lake and orange-red sunsets outlining the Congo Mountains to the west. It is 1 hour by speedboat or 2 hours by local wooden boat to Kigoma town. The Lodge has a total of 7 luxury tents (5 double tents & 2 twin tents) built on raised wooden decks, all with en suite facilities and a balcony at the front of the tent with safari chairs and a table. There is a lounge/dining area built on a raised wooden deck with a large raised porch in front, furnished with sofas and African antiques, sun loungers and umbrellas on the beach, jetty to the lake.
Best time to visit Gombe Park
Gombe National Park is best visited during the dry season of June to October when there is very little rain or no rain at all. Chimps are observable and easy to find on the lower slope during the dry period. Sometimes, they are even close to the camps or roaming along the sandy shores.
During the wet season, from November to April, accessibility is difficult and trekking is slippery.
Bird-watching time is between December to March. Hundreds of resident and migratory species such as pelicans, storks, ospreys, vultures, rollers, barbets, cuckoos, hawks, eagles, owls, cormorants, and many more can be witnessed in the park.
How to get to Gombe National Park
The easiest and quickest way to get to Gombe national park is by use of a boat from Kigoma town. You need to book an international flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport found in Arusha or Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. From here you will book a domestic flight to Kigoma Airport (TKQ) and will charter a private motorboat to Gombe. The boat trip takes less than an hour. A public motorboat from Kigoma to the park can also be done and the trip takes about four hours.
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