Gombe Stream National Park is located in western Kigoma Region, Tanzania, 20 km north of Kigoma. Established in 1968, Gombe is the smallest national park in Tanzania, with only 52 sq km of forest running along the hills of the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. It is located only 100km north of Mahale Mountains National Park and is accessible only by boat.
The terrain is distinguished by steep valleys, and the forest vegetation ranges from grassland to alpine bamboo to tropical rainforest. Gombe Stream is best known as the place where Jane Goodall did her pioneering studies on chimpanzees, beginning in the 1960s and continuing until this day. It's one of the two places in Tanzania for a chimpanzee safari.
The chimps don't roam as far in the wet summer season so amy be easier to find on walks and hikes through the forest. It might be better to visit between February and June, or during November and December when there is a higher likelihood of being able to observe the chimps while they are less active. There are no guarantees, but most guests allow 2 days for a chimpanzee safari.
Gombe Stream is most famous as the place where Jane Goodall conducted her pioneering studies on chimpanzees, which began in the 1960s and continue to the present day.
The scenery in Gombe is stunning, with most of the 16 major valleys containing swift streams that flow all year. The lush rainforest makes for a beautiful hikin environment, while lakeshore and clear water offer good beach activities.
Guests visiting the chimps will endure some steep and reasonably challenging hikes and walks, so it is recommended that one use their own discretion to asses their level of fitness before embarking on this trip.
The park succeeds as a small, isolated ecosystem surrounded by distinct boundaries, Lake Tanganyika and the Rift Valley Escarpment.
Best known for its habituated chimpanzee population, Gombe Stream National Park provides visitors with a unique opportunit to witness these incredible primates (sharing 98% of our human DNA) in their natural habitat, being conserved and protected to sustain their fragile existence. After the invaluable work of Jane Goodall, who dedicated her life to the conservation of the Gombe Stream chimps from the 1960s, wildlife programmes have broadcast from within the park, frequently featuring one of the families that can be visited in the park today.
Besides chimpanzees, primates inhabiting Gombe Stream include beachcomber olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys and vervet monkeys.The park is also home to over 200 bird species, as well as providing a home to a vast number of bushpigs. There are 11 species of snakes, and also a number of hippos and leopards, as well as bushbuck, Palm-nut vultures and Fish eagles.
Truly biodiverse, Gombe Stream is an undiscovered paradise where visitors can trek into the forest to observe chimpanzees, or swim and snorkel in Lake Tanganyika with almost 100 kinds of colorful cichlid fish. Gombe Stream is the perfect place for a walking safari, allowing guests to cool off along the way with a dip in one of the many streams that dissect the park.
Gombe Stream National Park is located close to the equator, making the climate warm and humid throughout the year. Evenings remain warm, unlike parks found in the north, cooling down to a temperature of about 15 degrees Celsius, while average daily temperatures get to be about 25 degrees.
Variations in climate are common due to the wide range in altitudes, and temperatures therefore rise and drop according to height. Areas open to tourists are mainly found where the altitudes are lower, therefore cooler.
The dry season is from May to October, which is when the chimpanzees are likely to be seen in big groups, however they tend to move around more at this time. The wet season continues from November to April, bringing the rains in the form of afternoon thunderstorms that seldom last the whole day.
There is very limited accommodation in Gombe Stream National Park, but due to its close proximity to Kigoma, guests can stay in town and transfer to Gombe for daily activities. We recommend the following accommodation options for the best experience:
Gombe Forest Lodge offers complete privacy by catering for just 14 guests at a time. Spacious safari tents, carefully positioned under the shade of huge mango trees face Lake Tanganyika. The tents are positioned on raised wooden platforms and are decorated with distinct African flair and locally produced furniture.
Gombe Luxury Tented Camp is located near the Mitumba stream at the northern end of Gombe Stream National Park. The location of the camp is exceptional, placed right on the lakeshore with an extensive private beach. All the tents are designed and constructed under big shady trees with views that make the most of what this unique beach front forest location.
Set on a remote rocky outcropoverlooking Lake Tanganyika, Kigoma Hilltop Hotel the perfect overnight location for guests visiting Gombe Stream, which is only a few kilometres away by boat. There are 30 newly refurbished cottage-style rooms, all boasting private verandas.
Safaris in Tanzania begin at Arusha, which is situated close to the northern safari locations.
Sun Safaris will fly guests to Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is the primary receiving airport in Tanzania. This airport is only a few kilometres away from Arusha airport, which is the safari node of the country and where most light air transfers take off from.
Once guests have landed at Kilimanjaro, they will connect with a road transfer that will take them to Arusha airport. Depending on timing of guests' itinerary, they might spend a night in Arusha before heading off on a scheduled flight to an airstrip or airport nearer their safari destination.
Gombe Stream National Park is only 52 sq km in size, located on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. It is only accessible by boat. Guests will fly from Arusha to Kigoma and then embark on a boat transfer to the park. Motor boats will take an hour, while lake taxis can take up to 3 hours to reach Gombe.