Gombe National Park

Gombe National Park : Deep in the jungle, an eager whoop erupts, quickly joined by a dozen additional voices, rising in volume, pace, and pitch to a wild screeching crescendo. It’s the well-known ‘panthoot’ call, a bonding ritual in which participants recognize one another by their individual vocalizations. This spine-chilling eruption is also an indicator of near-visual contact with man’s closest genetic relative, the chimp, for the human listener traveling through the ancient woodlands of Gombe Stream.

Gombe Stream National Park is located in Tanzania’s westernmost district, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The national park is 14 square miles (35 square kilometers) in size, making it one of the smallest in Tanzania and most of Africa.

The park’s terrain includes meadows, woods, steep valleys, and tropical rainforests. For such a tiny area, the diversity is astounding. The location of the monkeys and primates is dense jungle, which some may describe as a truly Tarzan-like scenario.

 Gombe Stream National Park is well-known for being the site of Jane Goodall’s scientific studies and work with chimpanzees and other primates. Jane Goodall began her research in the area in 1960, and her work and observations are extensively recorded and extremely useful in understanding primates and their habits and communications.

The chimpanzees are perhaps the park’s most popular attraction, although there are other primates who live nearby. Blue monkeys, olive baboons, red colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and vervet monkeys are among the other primates. This is one of Africa’s most densely populated areas for primates.

 Birdwatching enthusiasts can pursue over 200 different bird species. Bush pigs, hippopotami, numerous snakes, tiny antelope, and leopards are among the other animals. Leopards are important predators of chimpanzees and their related monkeys.


It’s a fascinating experience tracking the chimps. When Jane Goodall arrived in 1960, Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park was just one patch of woodland among many. It is now a little green island surrounded by farms, fields, and settlements. Notwithstanding the changes, this small (30-square-mile) park remains one of the best sites in the world to witness wild chimpanzees in their native habitat. During her time at Gombe, Goodall made numerous new discoveries about chimps, including their social order, calls, and previously unknown behavior.

The park is home to fewer than 150 chimpanzees. Because no census has been undertaken, the precise number of chimps is unknown. Current research and analysis include looking into mother-infant relationships, vocal communication, and botanical collections. Fifi, the matriarch of the original colony and the last living member, was just three years old when Jane Goodall first arrived in Gombe, and she is still frequently seen by visitors. The field study is ongoing, and the Gombe Stream Research Center (GSRC) is involved in conservation education. Both study and education are critical to the survival of free-living chimps and their environments.

Much time was spent getting the Gombe chimps used to human observers before Dr. Goodall could observe them. She employed random provisioning to acclimate the chimps to the presence of humans from 1962 to 1965. These investigations revealed varied behavioral characteristics in several chimp tribes. The Gombe chimps have three distinct behavioral patterns and are reported to share 13 behavioral patterns with other chimps. “Termite-fish employing non-leaf materials,” “lever open” (stick used to extend an entrance), “self-tickle” (ticking oneself using things), and “Rain dance” (slow display at the start of rain) are some common patterns. “Leaf squash” (squash bug on leaf) and “ant-dip-wipe” (manually wipe ants off the wand) are two unusual designs.

Please keep in mind that the minimum age for chimp trekking, as defined by TANAPA, is 15 years old. Thus, Gombe can only be included in a Tanzania family safari if you have older teenagers.


The primary draw of Gombe Stream is undoubtedly the chimp families that dwell within the park’s boundaries. There are guided treks that take people deep into the forest to observe and sit with the remarkable primates for a full morning—an incredible experience that is the highlight of many visitors’ travels to Africa. Other primates found in Gombe Stream besides chimps include beachcomber olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, red colobus monkeys, and vervet monkeys. Blue and red-tailed monkeys have also been observed hybridizing in the area. There are hippopotami, leopards, and 11 different snake species. There are also bush pigs and around 200 bird species in the park.

Lake Tanganyika, on the other hand, is a fantastic area to go snorkeling and swimming, fishing, sailing, or simply relaxing on the white sand. Hippos and crocodiles usually stay away from Gombe, so visitors can swim in the lake without fear of encountering wild creatures.

 A visit to the Goodall Foundation’s historic feeding station should be on your itinerary while in Gombe, and the nearby settlement of Ujiji is where Henry Stanley met Dr. Livingstone in 1871.

Gombe National Park
Gombe National Park


Visitors can take a domestic flight to Kigoma airfield, from which they can take a boat to the national park. There are daily flights from Dar es Salaam, as well as a shared charter flight from Arusha twice a week. Allow at least four days: one to get there, one to return, and at least two full days actually spent in the park. Gombe can be added to our Tanzania safari vacations, although it will take up the lion’s share of most journeys. Given how unique the chimp population is in this area, many people believe it is well worth it.


Gombe is best visited between June and October, during the dry season. During the dry season, there is little or no rain and lots of sunshine, though a fine haze might obstruct viewing conditions later in the year. Mosquitoes are few, especially during the day. During the dry season, chimps prefer the lower slopes and are easier to spot. They are sometimes found close to the campers or strolling along the sandy shore. Conditions in the intermediate period are highly changeable but often manageable and worthwhile due to other incentives.

Rain poses challenges from November to April during the wet season. Access is difficult, and the trek is treacherous. Lodges and accommodations close for repairs throughout March and April.

 Off-season visits do not provide much financial benefit. Travel is costly, and logistical costs rise as access gets more difficult. The Gombe park charge is the same all year and is nearly twice the price of other Tanzanian parks such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, and Manyara.


There are no opulent, top-notch lodges with a concentration on primates in Gombe Stream National Park. With comfortable and roomy accommodations that combine the airy comfort of safari tents with the permanence of solid-timbered decking and thatched roofs, Mbali-Mbali Gombe offers a small, individually personalized base for your African primate travel experience in a stunning setting between lake shore and mountain.

In the peak season, Mbali-Mbali Gombe tends to book up months or even a year in advance, especially for groups of more than two people, as it is the only appropriate tourist-focused primate lodging. Yet, there is seldom a crowding issue at Gombe because the park rarely has more than 15 to 25 tourists visiting at once.

In stark contrast, if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay in Gombe, you’re left to your own devices at the TANAPA-owned Gombe Bandas, the only option that resembles a backpacker hostel and offers very rudimentary and questionable lodging along with shared bathrooms and showers and a small selection of ethnic canteen food.


Going on a chimpanzee safari in Tanzania requires a lot of planning and money, but it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. The time Jane Goodall spent with the chimpanzees—who, as mankind’s closest relatives, share 98% of our genetic code—enriched not only her personal life but also her understanding of our own behavior and our place in the natural world among a larger, boundless universe, as she explained in her research, books, and talks.

 Please get in touch if you’d like to begin organizing your Gombe safari vacation. If you have specific requests or needs, we will be happy to design an itinerary just for you. Why are you holding out? Your trip to the Gombe National Park is ready!