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Gombe National Park

Incomparable Luxurious Safaris to Africa's Top Wildlife Viewing Parks

The ancient forests may look tranquil and serene, but don’t let looks fool you. Underneath the canopy, adventure awaits. Home to many marvellous creatures, one stands out in particular. Get ready for a thrilling encounter with our closest genetic relative: the chimpanzee.

Gombe is one of the smallest of Tanzania’s national parks and is easily made up by the sheer excitement of meeting its famous inhabitants. It was Jane Goodall the world reknown conservationist that gave the fully habituated chimpanzees their celebrity status. Her behavioural research program started over half a century ago and is the oldest of its kind in the world, running until this day. Gombe is a haven for researchers, in part due to the large group sizes, with the Kasekela group of at least 40 chimps being the largest.

Eight different primate species are present

Herbivores and carnivores are a rarity on the steep Rift Wall and its fringes, making Gombe a dreamland for walking safaris. While trekking through the dense woods — there are hardly any open areas in the park prepare yourself for some remarkable encounters. Chimpanzees have true character that they like to express through wild gestures and yelps. With 98% of our genes shared; the feeling of bonding between our species can be a truly magical moment. Although the fierce display of a dominant male can be frightening, no harm is intended; he is just showing his power. Don’t run away, just stay calm and make yourself small!

Gombe is a dreamland for walking safaris

But chimpanzees are not the only primates here; no less than eight different species are present. Scan the forest canopy for red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys and colobusses while staying on the lookout for the habituated beachcomber olive baboons, themselves an object of another scientific study. Two nocturnal species occur.- the Senegal galago and the South African galago (or bushbaby). Don’t miss out on the wealth on offer in the air and under water either. Over 200 bird species fly around, varying from the African crowned eagle that hunts monkeys, to the iconic fish eagle, three kinds of kingfisher and the bright Peter’s twinspots. Another remarkable character is the palm-nut vulture; a near- vegetarian common to Lake Tanganyika that prefers fruit over carcasses. The lake itself lies on the base of the Rift Valley and harbours about 350 various species of fish, most of them endemic.

  • After being designated as a game reserve in 1943, it became a national park in 1968.
  • It covers 56 km2 — plus a 100 m wide strip of coastal water — and stretches 13 km from north to south.
  • Height: 773 m to 1,500 m (Mitumba).
  • Average temperatures: 26—30 °C (daytime) and 14-17 °C (night-time).
  • Dry season: mid-May — October — November, wet season: November — mid—May (less rainy in January — February), no seasonal changes in the dense forest.
  • Best time to visit: wet season, for plants and insects and better chimpanzee spotting (they don’t roam as far in the wet season).
  •  Just like Mahale National Park, Gombe is a rather remote park, only accessible by boat.
  • To get to Kigoma: there are scheduled flights from Dar es Salaam and Arusha (private flights organised by us).
  • From Kigoma to Kasekela: by local lake-taxi (up to four hours), or motorboat (two hours, bookings through us).

Don’t miss out on the wealth on offer in the air and under water either

What to do
Guided chimpanzee tracking, guided walks alongside the beach, hiking, swimming and snorkelling. The site of Henry Stanley’s and David Livingstone’s famous encounter (“Dr Livingstone I presume”) can be visited at Ujiji near Kigoma. Or watch the renowned dhow builders at work.

NOTE: Strict rules are in place to safeguard both you and the chimps. Allow yourself at least two days to go looking for them; Gombe is not a zoo so encounters cannot be guaranteed. 

Gombe National Park