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Gombe National Park

Image - Gombe National Park

THE Gombe Stream National Park in the northwest is the smallest park in Tanzania covering only 52 sq. km, but it offers visitors the rare chance to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat. The park is a thin strip of forest on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and is accessed by boat from Kigoma, 16 km away depending on the type of boat.


The journey can take between two and four hours. The Park is internationally acclaimed largely due to the research of renowned conservationist Jane Goodhall who has been observing the chimpanzee community since
1960.

The park is largely made up of mountain forests and grasslands and some alpine bamboo. Chimpanzee trekking and walking safaris in the forest can be arranged as well as swimming in the lake and streams. Ujiji near Kigoma was the site of Henry Morton Stanley’s famous meeting with Dr. David Livingstone.

Best Time to Visit

The chimpanzees are easier to find in the wet season from February-June and November-December because they do not wander so far. Dry months of July-October and late December can, however, offer better photo opportunities.

Access

Visitors to the park must start their trek from the nearest town of Kigoma. Kigoma is reached by air, rail, road or lake. Visitors can only reach the park by boat, a 24 km (15 miles) trip north from Kigoma to Kasakela. The cheapest way is by flight aboard one of the crowded tin-roofed water-taxis that collect passengers at the shore. This requires a taxi trip to Ujiji or to Kalalangabo village just north of Kigoma bay. These leave several times a day, every day except Sundays, or days when the lake steamers run. The boats make several stops along the way and the journey takes three hours or more. These boats also provide charter services for individuals or
parties.

A large ship called Mwongozo sails once a week north past the Park. Travel timetable is available at the railway station or at the Railway Hotel to find out departure days and times. Visitors to the park can also disembark at Mwamgongo, north of the Park, and walk back along the beach or hire a small boat to take them to their centre.

Wildlife

Although Gombe is famous for its chimpanzees, approximately 200 of them, a number of monkey species can also be seen such as red colobus, red-tail and blue monkeys. The area is heavily forested, making it an unsuitable habitat for carnivores so the park is safe for walking safaris. There are rewarding sightings for birdwatchers. It is advisable to allow at least two days to see the chimpanzees, as there are no guaranteed daily sightings.

Last Updated on Monday 30th November 2009