An excited whoop erupts from deep in the forest, boosted immediately by a dozen other voices, rising in volume and tempo and pitch. It is the famous ‘pant-hoot’ call. It is a bonding ritual that allows the participants to identify each other through their individual vocals. This spine-chilling outburst is also an indicator of imminent visual contact with man’s closest genetic relative, the chimpanzee. Walking through the ancient forests of Gombe Stream is truly magical.
Gombe is the smallest of Tanzania’s National Parks. A fragile strip of chimpanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys. Lake Tanganyika shows its sandy northern shore. It was Dr. Jane Goodall, who in 1960 founded a behavioral research program for chimpanzees living in Tanzania’s forest. It now stands as the longest-running study of its kind in the world. The matriarch Fifi, is the last surviving member of the original community. She was three years old when Goodall first arrived to Gombe. Travelers are still able to visit Fifi.
Chimpanzees share about 98% of their genes with humans. No scientific expertise is required to distinguish between the individual repertoires of pants, hoots and screams of these intelligent beings.
Perhaps you will see a flicker of understanding when you look into a chimp’s eyes, assessing you in return. A look of apparent recognition across the narrowest of species barriers.
The most visible of Gombe’s other mammals are also primates. A troop of beachcomber olive baboons have been under study since the 1960’s. While red-tailed and red colobus monkeys stick to the forest canopy. The park’s over 200 bird species range from the iconic Fish-Eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s Twin-Spots that hop tamely around the visitor’s center.
After dusk, a dazzling night sky is complemented by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats, bobbing on the lake like a sprawling city.
Size: 52 sq km (20 sq miles), Tanzania's smallest park.
Location: 16 km (10 miles) north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania.
Feline Safaris Tanzania provides rewarding trips to Gombe stream park to encounter the chimpanzee and many other primate species inhabit the tropical forests as well as varieties of small antelopes and unique birds life.