Covering an area of just 52 sq km, the Gombe Stream National Park is the smallest national park in Tanzania. It is situated in the west of the country, along the northern shores of the famous Tanganyika Lake. It can be considered to be the best place for chimpanzee safari as the activity has come to be known in Africa and indeed the world. The distinguished terrain of the park is punctuated by steep valleys and dense forest vegetation that varies from rain forests to grasslands as well as the alpine bamboos. There are no roads to the park making it accessible only by boat as there is no air strip as well. To reach there one has to first reach the town of Kigoma which is 20 km south of the park across Lake Tanganyika and from there one can hire the boat taxis that are available to cross the lake over to the park.
The park is the natural habitat to the animal considered to be genetically closest to the human race, the chimpanzee. This small strip of land was made famous by Dr. Jane Goodall who in early 1960s came down to these shores in search of chimpanzees and her subsequent researches proved to be pioneering work in the field of behavioural study of animals and humans. Her work was a revolutionary task to redesign the borders of the human race with the animal kingdom. Also, it led to the huge awareness in the west about the small but interesting national park amongst the Tanzania safari tours. The place is ideal for both, a weekend holiday or a long summer vacation. Right from the sandy shores of the lake to the rugged and steep trails in the mountains one has a lot to look at and marvel.
Apart from the chimpanzees which obviously form the major attraction of the park fauna, there are also other animals and primates that provide with great sight. In fact, the high diversity of the park is one of the major reasons for people opting to visit the park. Other notable species of animals are the beachcomber olive baboons, the vervet monkeys and the red tailed monkeys. In addition to these, the park is also the habitat of over 200 species of birds and bushpigs and over 11 different species of snakes. Apart from these the regular species of the hippopotamus and leopards are also present in the park. Amongst the birds, the most distinct are the fish eagles and the jewel like Peter’s twinspots. The latter hops tamely around the visitors camps.
Though the park is quite small in fact smallest of the entire Tanzania safari available yet, it could take many years for anyone to completely explore it and witness all the wonders that it has to offer. Apart from the chimpanzee trekking and wild safari hiking one can also go for snorkelling and swimming in the lake. These activities allow visitors to witness a whole new dimension of the wilderness around the national park and more often add fuel to the adventure safari. The best season to visit the Gombe Stream National Park is during the dry months i.e. Jul-Oct, as this is the time when the prized chimpanzees are easily accessible and provide many opportunities to be sighted. For the accommodation one can find the guest house and campsites on the shores as well as a luxury tented lodge and a hostel which is considered to be self catering. Also one must have time at hand to enjoy the park in its true sense like the spotting of the chimps may even take two days.