Gombe Stream is an untamed place of lush forests and clear lake views on the western border of Tanzania and the Congo, but is even more famous for being the habitat of endangered Chimpanzees which share about 98% of their genes with humans, hence making them our closest ‘cousins.’ it is also why the location is called Gombe Stream national park.
The chimpanzee paradise, is marked by steep valleys, and the forest vegetation ranges from grassland to alpine bamboo to tropical rainforests which can be reached only by boat.
The park is most famous as the location where Jane Goodall pioneered her behavioral research conducted on the chimpanzee populations.
Lined by 13 river valleys, and forming a narrow strip, it encompasses rolling hills of miombo woodland, which rise from the shores of Lake Tanganyika and eventually reach a height of more than 1 500m on the rift escarpment
If you visit, you might chance on the famous ‘pant-hoot’ call, a bonding ritual that allows the participants to identify each other through their individual vocal stylizations. It goes like an excited whoop which erupts from deep in the forest, boosted immediately by a dozen other voices, rising in volume and tempo and pitch to a frenzied shrieking crescendo. The spine-chilling outburst is also an indicator of imminent visual contact with man’s closest genetic relative.
The mountainous park is located on the western rift escarpment on Lake Tanganyika, at the southern end of the Albertine Rift.
Gombe is also an attraction for avid bird watchers, with a crossover of East African savannah birds and West African forest species, which include pied and giant kingfishers, the crowned eagle, the African broadbill, Ross’s turaco and the trumpeter hornbill.
It can be easily accessed by a chartered motorboat from Kigoma for the 16km journey to the park and to go on a guided forest walk. One can stay at the Gombe Tented Camp, alluringly located on a northern beach.
Gombe is a destination that is worth combining with other big attractions nearby like the Selous Game Reserve, and the Katavi and Ruaha National Parks since it is a small place in itself.
Other primates which can be seen in Gombe are the red colobus, the red-tail and blue monkey and the baboon apart from other wild animals.