Gombe Stream National Park, located on Tanzania’s western border with the Congo, is best known for Jane Goodall, the resident primatologist who spent many years in the park’s forests studying the behavior of endangered chimps
Gombe Stream, located on the untamed shores of Lake Tanganyika, is an untamed place of lush forests and clear lake views. Hiking and swimming are also popular activities here after the day’s chimp expedition is over.
The main draw of Gombe Stream is undoubtedly the chimp families that live within the park’s boundaries. There are guided walks available that take visitors deep into the forest to observe and sit with the extraordinary primates for an entire morning — an incredible experience that many visitors’ trips to Africa revolve around. Aside from chimp viewing, the tropical forests of Gombe Stream are home to a variety of other primates. The dense forest is home to vervet and colobus monkeys, baboons, forest pigs, and small antelopes, as well as a diverse array of tropical birdlife.
Gombe is Tanzania’s smallest national park, a fragile chimp habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that hem in the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Its habituated chimps were made famous by the pioneering work of Jane Goodall, who founded a behavioral research program in 1960 that is now the world’s longest-running study of its kind. Visitors can still see the matriarch Fifi, the last surviving member of the original community, which was only three years old when Goodall first arrived in Gombe.
The most visible of Gombe’s other mammals are primates as well. A group of beachcomber olive baboons has been studied since the 1960s, whereas red-tailed and red colobus monkeys – the latter of which is regularly hunted by chimps – prefer the forest canopy.
The park’s 200-plus bird species include the iconic fish eagle and the jewel-like Peter’s twinspots, which hop around the visitors’ center.
After dusk, the dazzling night sky is enhanced by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats that bob on the lake like a sprawling city.