Gombe National Park Safari Guide

safarigo   Tanzania  

Gombe Stream is one of the best places in Africa to track chimpanzees. First researched in the 60's by Jane Goodall, the primates are remarkably habituated. The project now ranks as the world’s longest running study of any wild animal population. The experience is one that you are unlikely to forget.



Pros & Cons


A chance to come face to face with chimps
Pristine forest at the shore of Lake Tanganyika
Watching wildlife on a hike is a nice change from vehicle safaris
Very exclusive and not crowded
Difficult to get to and accommodation options are limited


Wildlife & Animals

The main attraction in Gombe Stream is its population of habituated chimpanzees. There are about 100 chimps in the small park. Your guide will take you, on foot, along the forest trails to find them. Once found, you can observe them for one hour, whether they’re feeding, resting or walking (usually resulting in a challenging pursuit).

Wildlife Highlights


Aside from the chimps, other primates are often encountered. A troop of olive baboon, also under study since the 1960s, is exceptionally habituated, while red-tailed and red colobus monkey – the latter regularly hunted by chimps – stick to the forest canopy. One of the more secretive inhabitants of the forest is the bushpig.

Birds

Gombe Stream has about 200 bird species listed. Most of them are forest birds, which are quite difficult to spot. Particularly since walking in the forest unguided is not allowed and the guided walks are focused on chimpanzees. The lakeshore is a good place to see fish eagles and palmnut vultures perched in the palm trees. Peter’s twinspot, a normally elusive forest bird, is quite tame and easily spotted in the camp. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

Best Time to Visit

Trekking chimpanzees in Gombe National Park can be done throughout the year, but the odds of finding them quickly is better towards the end of the Dry season, from July to October. This is when the chimps tend to stick to the lower slopes. In the Wet season, it might take three to four hours to locate the chimps. The only private lodge in the park is closed in March-April.

May to October – Dry Season


Chimpanzee are easiest to track from July to October
Lots of sunshine – it seldom rains
Fewer mosquitoes means less risk of malaria
You might see other tourists tracking chimps, but the park never gets really crowded


November to April – Wet Season


The air is clear and has no haze
Presence of migratory birds makes bird watching great
Butterflies are abundant
The forest tracks will be difficult and slippery to walk on
Chimpanzee might be difficult to find as they move away from the lake
It gets very hot and humid


Weather & Climate

The climate in Gombe is warm to hot and humid. Daytime temperatures are around 26°C/79°F, and it cools down at night to around 16°C/61°F.

The Dry season is from May to October. Unlike the coastal areas and northern parks (which have two Wet seasons with a dry spell in between), Gombe has one continuous Wet season from November to April. It rarely rains all day, but afternoon thundershowers can be expected.


Dry Season – May to October


May – This is the end of the Wet season. It might still rain a bit over this month.
June, July & August – Afternoon temperatures are usually around 27°C/81°F. Skies are mostly cloud-free and full of sun. It rarely rains over these months. June to August have the coldest nights but are still moderate with minimum temperatures of about 15°C/59°F on average.
September & October – September and October have the highest temperatures of the year, but the difference from other months is just a few degrees. October is the end of the Dry season. Rain can be expected some days and humidity will slowly increase.


Wet Season – November to April


November, December, January, February, March & April – It is slightly cooler in the Wet season, but the humidity can be oppressive. Afternoon temperatures are usually about 25°C/77°F and night temperatures are about 17°C/63°F. It will rain many days, but it rarely lasts all day.

Getting There

The only way to get to Gombe is by boat from Kigoma town. Depending on your itinerary, you might book your international flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha town or Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam.

In most cases, your tour operator will pick you up from the airport or, if not, you can take a taxi. Your tour operator will also book your ongoing domestic flight to Kigoma Airport (TKQ) and will charter a private motorboat to Gombe. The boat trip takes less than an hour.

It is also possible to take a public motor boat or ‘lake taxi’ from Kigoma to the park. This trip takes about four hours.