One of the best destinations in Africa for chimpanzee tracking is definitely the Gombe Stream. It was first researched back in the 60’s by Jane Goodall. It’s one of the longest-running studies of any wild animal population. A visit to this place is an adventure of a lifetime and an unforgettable experience.
Gombe is located at the shore of Lake Tanganyika. The forest is divided by 13 streams that go all the way from the escarpment to the sandy beach. Looking back at the way that forested slopes climb up the steep escarpment is breathtaking.
The population of the habituated chimpanzee is the main attraction here in Gombe Stream. Expect to find around 100 chimps in the small park. A guide is in charge of taking you on foot through the forest to find them. Once you spot chimpanzees, you can watch them for one hour. They can be feeding in the canopy which is a great sight. However, they tend to be on the move a lot and you and the guide will need to hurry up and follow them.
Besides the chimps, other primates can often be spotted. Olive baboons are under study since 1960’s and you can see a troop of them here. Red-tailed and red colobus monkeys tend to stick to the forest canopy. The bushpig is also present.
Best Time to Visit
You can track chimpanzees throughout the year in Gombe National Park. However, the odds that you find them are better at the end of the Dry season from July to October. This is a period when chimpanzees prefer staying close to the lower slopes. In case you’re visiting in the Wet Season, expect to locate the chimps in three to four hours.
May to October –Dry Season
- The best time to track chimpanzees is from July to October then they stick to the lower slopes.
- There is little rain and plenty of sunshine.
- There are fewer mosquitos and the risk of catching malaria is lowered.
- Although you might spot other visitors tracking chimps here and there, the park is rarely crowded.
November to April –Wet Season
- There is no haze and the air is clear.
- Bird-watching is great thanks to the presence of migratory birds.
- There are many butterflies flying around.
- The forest tracts are slippery to walk on.
- It may be difficult to track chimps, as they move away from the lake.
- It gets extremely humid and hot.
Getting to Gombe National Park is not the easiest or cheapest. The only way you can get there is by taking a boat from Kigoma Town. Depending on the itinerary you choose, you can book an international flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha or to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam.
Your tour operator is usually in charge of picking you up from the airport and arranging domestic flights to Kigoma Airport (TKQ). This person will also charter a private motorboat to take you to Gombe. The boat trip is not that long and takes less than an hour.
Travelers can also wait for a public motorboat or as the locals call it “lake taxi from Kigoma to the park. This trip takes about four hours.
Airlines & Ticket Prices
To see which airline companies can take you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) please check Skyscanner. Travelers who are looking for multiple destinations flights and would like to know the price of the tickets can check Expedia for more information.
In most cases, charter flights are booked by your tour operator as part of the package. Several local carriers offer domestic flights to Kigoma.