Overview – Gombe NP
Gombe Stream is one of the best places in Africa to track chimpanzees. First researched in the 60's by Jane Goodall, 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.
Pros and Cons
- A chance to come face to face with chimps, one of Africa's big apes
- Pristine forest at the shore of Lake Tanganyika
- Watching wildlife on a hike is a nice change from vehicle safaris
- Very exclusive and not crowded
- Difficult to get to and accommodation options are limited
Gombe's chimps are the main attraction, but the park is also home to a troop of habituated olive baboon that can usually be found on the lakeshore. There are several other monkey species present, including red colobus monkey, which are sometimes hunted by the chimps.
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.
Weather & Climate
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. The coolest it gets is around 15°C/59°F, which isn’t bad. A lot of water can get dumped on the park when the rains come, but these usually arrive late in the day and don’t last long.
Best Time to Visit
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.
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Stuart is a travel writer and author of numerous Lonely Planet guidebooks, including Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.
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