Gombe Stream is Tanzania’s smallest park (52 sq km) and is home of the world famous chimp reserve. It is located 16 km north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. There are plenty of baboons around, but the focal point of Gombe are the chimps. It’s reconciling their interests with those of tourism that has occupied the founder of the reserve, Jane Goodall, for 25 years. Here, in the 1960’s, Goodall carried out major research conclusively the unique relationship between man and chimpanzee, as we share 95% of our genes with them (some people may share more than others!) and they have similar hearing, smells and other senses to humans.
Some of the chimpanzees in the main study community are actually quite aggressive to strangers, so it can be dangerous. Care has to be taken not to pass on diseases to the chimps, as humans and chimps immunity systems are so similar that they are contiguous to both human beings and chimps.
The chimpanzee is an endangered species because of the rapid habitat destruction.
Only around 100,000 – 200,000 exist in the wild. Habituating the chimps involves living in the middle of dense jungle, often alone, and under trying conditions. In defiance of all this, the biggest threat to the chimps still comes from humans. Like in Saudi Arabia and Dubai it’s a routine to have a little collection of exotic animals having a chimp is a must. And some chimps get smuggled through into east Europe or Mexico or Cuba or South America for medical research or for entertainment. The Goodall institute offers rewards to anyone who gives evidence of people who are abusing chimps.
Chimpanzees are theoretically elusive giants and spotting them is largely a matter of luck. However, the tour guides at the camp know the animals well and are nearly always in touch with their movements from day to day. They are sometimes literally at the back of the camp and other days they are no where to be seen – but on average you should expect to walk for at least 2-3 hours. However don’t get too discouraged if you fail to spot a wild chimp, the landscape and flora and fauna is grotesque in and around the reserve. From Jane’s Peak you can see an astounding view of the Entire Park and Kakombe Waterfall.
Most appropriate time for this particular place is the dry season. The chimps don’t roam as far in the wet season (February-June, November-mid December) so may be easier to find;
It is a picturesque mostly in the dry season (July-October and late December). For accommodation, Gombe has got one new luxury tented lodge, as well a self-catering hostel, guesthouse and campsites on the lakeshore.
Come see, come learn!