Gombe National Park

Gombe national park is the smallest protected are located in the western part of Tanzania, eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika at the Tanzania-Congo border. The park covers a total area of 35 square kilometers comprised of steep valleys, vegetation types ranging from grassland to woodland and tropical rainforest which act as habitats for the endangered chimpanzees, other primates like vervet monkeys, red colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, baboons, animals like forest pigs, antelopes, bird species among others. Gombe national park was established as a game reserve in 1943 and later became a national park in 1968 after the primatologist Jane Goodall started her research activities about the behaviors of chimpanzees.  Jane Goodall’s dream to study about chimpanzees began in 1960 when she found a chimpanzee behavioral research program in Gombe forest reserve. Kasakela chimpanzee community featured in several books and documentaries in the park is one of Jane Goodalls work, she became widely known due to the film which came out in 1965 called Miss Goodall and the wild chimpanzees produced by National Geographic.  

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Attractions in Gombe national park

Wildlife, the national park is famously known for its endangered chimpanzees and other primates like red tailed monkeys, red colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, animals like bush pigs, small antelopes, leopards and  hippos which are rarely seen.

Birds, Gombe national park is a home of over 200 bird species ranging from forest birds, aquatic and migratory birds which makes the park one of the birding haven for bird lovers. Bird species in the park include palmnut vulture, peters twinspot, African fish eagle, crowned eagle, Ross’s turaco, double toothed barbet, African broadbill among others.

Top things to do in Gombe national park

Chimpanzee trekking, this is an interesting and major activity carried out in Gombe national park. Chimpanzee trekking starts with a briefing about the rules and regulations to follow during trekking, after the briefing you will be allocated a park guide who is well conversant with trails in the forest and a habituated chimpanzee family to trek. During trekking you will have views of other primates species like vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons, plant species, birds among others and once the chimpanzees are found you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. During the one hour you will be able to know more about their behaviors, habits, watch them carry out their daily activities like feeding, hunting, breastfeeding, resting among others which give you lifetime experiences.

Bird watching, Gombe national park is a birding paradise for bird lovers in that it harbors over 200 bird species ranging from forest birds, migratory birds, aquatic bird species among others.  though some bird species like forest birds are difficult to spot, during your birding safari you should look out for bird species like peters twinspot, palmnut vulture, African fish eagle, Livingstone’s turaco, paradise flycatcher, rufous sparrow, tropical boubou, double toothed barbet, African broadbill, rufous sparrow, red capped robin chat among others. Birding in the park is best done early in the morning when birds are waking up from their nests and late evening when they are returning back to their nests. 

Guided nature walk, this is an interesting activity that gives you an opportunity to explore the park on foot. Nature walks start with a briefing and after you will be allocated an armed park guide who will protect you from any danger while hiking. During the guided nature walk you will follow different trails in the forest and visit various attractions like the old feeding station of Jane Goodall’s foundation which is also the place where Henry Stanley met Dr Livingstone in 1871. you will be able to view primates and animals at a close range, birds flying in the air, different vegetation types, plants, listen to sweet sounds of birds singing, breath fresh air, relax your mind in a quiet environment, take clear pictures among others.  

Sport fishing, sport fishing is an exciting activity that is carried out with an experienced guide and a fishing permit from the park headquarters. Sport fishing is only done in designated areas and during the activity you will use catch and release method.

Best time to visit Gombe national park

Gombe national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best time for chimpanzee trekking is during the wet season in the months of March to May and September to November. During the wet season the forest receives heavy rainfall which supports plant growth therefore there will be plenty of food and water for the chimpanzees hence trekking will be easy compared to the dry season when they move deep into the forest in search of food. The wet season is also the best time for bird watching in that you will be able to view colorful and migratory bird species.

Where to stay on your safari in Gombe national park

There are a number of accommodation facilities in Gombe national park where you can stay during your Tanzania safari. The accommodations range from luxury, mid-range, budget, campsites and they include Mbali Mbali Gombe lodge, Gombe Forest lodge, Mbuzi Mawe Serena camp, Gombe Bandas, Muzye lodge, Mlukoyoyo Guest house, Kigoma hilltop hotel among others. 

Gombe National Park
Gombe National Park

How to get to Gombe national park

Gombe national park can easily be reached by using a boat from Kigoma town to the park. The national park can also be reached by air transport means whereby you will book scheduled or chartered flights from Arusha or Dar es Salaam to Kigoma airport and your driver-guide will drive you to the park headquarters or arrange for a private motorboat to the park. The charter flights will however be booked by your tour operator.

Gombe national park is the best place to visit for visitors interested in chimpanzee trekking because it harbors large numbers of chimpanzees, offers protection, development, and conservation in their natural environment. For more information about the park, you can contact Focus East Africa Tours.

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