Gombe Stream National Park is a place in Africa to track chimpanzees. First researched in the ’60s by Jane Good all, 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.
Gombe’s chimps are the main attraction, but the park is also home to a troop of habituated olive baboons that can usually be found on the lakeshore. There are several other monkey species present, including red colobus monkeys, which are sometimes hunted by the chimps.
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).
Aside from the chimps, other primates are often encountered. A troop of the 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.
The Dry season (from May to October) is the best time for trekking chimpanzees. At this time, the chimps tend to stay close to the lakeshore and are easier to find. The park stays open throughout the year but, in heavy rain, the trails might be difficult to walk.
Gombe Stream has 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 palm nut vultures perched in the palm trees. Gombe Stream National ParkPeter’s twinspot, a normally elusive forest bird, is quite tame and easily spotted in the camp. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
birdlife in Gombe Stream is good year-round, but at its best from November to April when the migratory birds from Europe and northern Africa are present. At this time, many resident bird species are nesting and are in breeding plumage. From March to April the rains can make birding difficult because forest trails become slippery. Chimp trekking is better in the Dry season, from June to October, since they are easier to find. Gombe Stream National Park
Gombe lies at the shore of Lake Tanganyika. The forest is lush and divided by 13 streams that run down the escarpment to the sandy beach. To swim out and look back at the way the forested slopes climb up the steep escarpment is an unforgettable experience.
Gombe has a pleasant, relatively cloudless Dry season (May to October) and a humid, stormy Wet season (November to April). One of the best things about the drier months is the absence of cold nights. Gombe Stream National Park The coolest it gets is around 15°C/59°F, which isn’t bad. A lot of water can get dumped in the park when the rains come, but these usually arrive late in the day and don’t last long.
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, and 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 for many days, but it rarely lasts all day.
The chimps tend to stick to the lower slopes of the escarpment during the drier months (May to October), so this is the best time to track them. And hiking through the forest is certainly easier when the tracks are firm and dry. By contrast, in the Wet season (November to April) you’re more likely to slip, and the chimps require a lot more effort to find.
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.
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. Our Company will also book your going domestic flight to Kigoma Airport (TKQ) and will charter a private motorboat to Gombe. The boat trip takes less than an hour.
It’s also possible to take a public motorboat or ‘lake taxi’ from Kigoma to the park. This trip takes about four hours.
Gombe National Park is very safe to visit in our opinion. Gombe’s remote location and the fact it can only be reached by boat make it inherently safe.
You should get advice about vaccinations before your trip to Africa. Malaria is present in Gombe. To protect you, you should apply mosquito repellent (those that have DEET in them are most effective), take anti malarial medication, and wear long-sleeved clothing during evening hours.