Destinations | Gombe Streams National Park

Gombe is the smallest of Tanzania's national parks: a fragile strip of chimpanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that hem in the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Its chimpanzees - habituated to human visitors - were made famous by the pioneering work of Jane Goodall, who in 1960 founded a behavioural research program that now stands as the longest-running study of its kind in the world.

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 power brokers, 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.

50 species of animal have been noted in the park predominantly from the monkey family: Chimpanzees, Yellow Baboon, Sykes Monkeys, Red- tailed, Savannah, Colobus Monkeys (both red and black & white) and 2 species of Galago The park's 200-odd bird species range from the Fish Eagle to the jewel-like Peter's Twinspots that hop tamely around the visitor's centre.

About Gombe Stream National Park:
Size: 52 sq km, Tanzania's smallest park. Location: 16 km north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania.

Getting there:
Kigoma is connected with scheduled flights from Arusha and Dar es Salaam

What to do:
Chimpanzee trekking; hiking, swimming and snorkeling; 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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