Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania

On the shore of Lake Tanganyika lies the lush forest of Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, where roughly 100 habituated chimpanzees can be tracked through their unspoiled home. With 13 streams and a pristine sandy beach, your visit to this remote forested island is bound to be filled with a wonderful mix of adventure and leisure.

  • Best Time to Go

    July – October

  • Average Safari Cost

    Up to $1,000

  • Highlights

    Chimpanzee tracking, several monkey species, hiking trails, sandy beach and 13 streams to swim in

Why Visit Gombe Stream National Park

Gombe Stream National Park is not visited for the safari staples, but for being one of the best places in Africa to track chimpanzees. In fact, besides the chimps and other monkey species – such as red-tailed and red colobus monkey – there aren’t many large mammals present.

Trekking with the chimps, on foot, through the forest is an amazing and unforgettable experience. Now, it would be best if you were physically fit to enjoy this experience to the fullest. Most times, the chimps are moving through the canopy, and you will likely have to maintain a steady jog if you want to keep up with them. There are roughly 100 chimps in Gombe, and while they are habituated, your guide will likely advise you to keep your distance as they can be a bit aggressive.

Pros and Cons

Challenges make travel an adventure. We hope that your adventure will outshine any challenges that you may face.
  • Chimpanzee trekking
  • Beautifully unspoilt forest
  • Hikes give you a personal experience that game drives lack
  • Remote location and rarely crowded
  • Limited accommodation options
  • Reached by motorboat only

Best Time to Go

Wet season:November to April

Dry season: May to October

Gombe has a warm climate that can become hot and humid in the wet months. The nights are cool and comfortable throughout the year and daytime temperatures are pleasant from May to October. This is the best time of the year to visit Gombe, especially if you will be tracking chimpanzees. Wildlife watching will also be fantastic, as the vegetation will be thinned out and the animals will gather around more reliable water sources.

November to April is neither a good time for wildlife viewing nor for chimpanzee trekking, but it’s great for birdwatching. Migratory birds are present, and many birds will be in their breeding plumage.

For more information when to visit see our Tanzania Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

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Wildlife and Birds

Chimpanzees are the main attraction in Gombe and there aren’t many large mammals present. There are roughly 200 recorded species of birds present.
List of Animals
  • Leopard
  • Hippo
  • Chimpanzee
  • Baboon

Gombe Stream is popular for the 100 habituated chimpanzees that can be tracked through the forest. As there aren’t any safari favourites in the park, the chimps are the main attraction. You could occasionally see a few hippos and leopard skulk unseen in the vegetation, but the monkeys are the most prominent mammals in the park. Besides the chimps, there are also olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys and red colobus monkeys.

Rare Animals

  • Leopard, bushpig

Infrequently Seen Animals

  • Hippo, red-tailed monkey, red colobus monkey

Frequnetly Seen Animals

  • Chimpanzee, olive baboon

Gombe Stream is not great for bird watching, but it’s not awful either. Fish Eagles and Palm-nut Vultures can be seen around the lakeshore and the African Paradise Flycatcher is commonly seen as well. The majority of the birds are forest species and therefore difficult to see. November to April is the best time for bird watching as migratory birds will be present and many resident’s will be in their breeding plumage.

Endangered Birds

For a complete list of endangered birds in Tanzania see here.

Endemic and Near Endemic Birds

  • African Broadbill, African Fish Eagle, African Paradise Flycatcher, Black Saw-wing, Crowned Eagle, Double-toothed Barbet, Kenya Rufous Sparrow, Livingstone’s Turaco, Palm-nut Vulture, Peter’s Twinspot, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Red-chested Cuckoo, Ross’s Turaco, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
  • /ul>

Getting There and Safety

Gombe is not easy to get to – the only way to reach the park, is by boat from Kigoma Town.

There are two main airports closest to Gombe: Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha Town and Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. Which airport you arrive at depends on your itinerary.

The best option would be for you to visit as part of an organised tour. In this case, your tour operator will arrange for pick-up at the airport, and for all further transportation to Gombe. From the airport, you will need to take a domestic flight to Kigoma Airport and then a boat to Gombe.

If you are part of an organised tour, your operator will arrange for a private motorboat to take you to Gombe. If you are on an independent safari, however, you will likely need to take a public motorboat (“lake taxi”). While a private motorboat will take less than an hour to get to Gombe, a public one could take up to 4 hours.


For the flights to Tanzania, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you there and compare various ticket prices.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Tanzania.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Tanzania.


For more information on visas see our Tanzania Safari - Complete Country Guide.

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Tanzania. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

Vaccinations and Malaria

Please speak to your healthcare provider about appropriate malaria preventative medication for the region. As added protection against mosquitoes, use an insect repellent with 30% DEET or more and keep your arms and legs covered at night.

Check your local travel health authority for more information:

What to Pack


  • A good insect repellent is essential for Gombe.
  • Camera
  • Spare rechargeable batteries
  • Battery charger
  • Spare memory card for camera
  • General clothing
  • Trail shoes and hiking boots
  • Personal medication
  • Small backpack (for game drives)
  • Toiletries – female visitors may want to bring tampons/pads along, as Moremi is a remote park, and you might not be able to acquire any whilst there.

If you are visiting from November to April, wet-weather gear is necessary:

  • Waterproof backpack
  • Waterproof rain jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Waterproof hiking boots

If you are visiting in the dry season from May to October, you will need:

  • Sunscreen
  • Wide-brimmed sunhat
  • Warm clothing – nights and early mornings are chilly.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.


Traveling to Gombe is safe. However, if you are taking a public motorboat, it may be best to keep an eye on your belongings. Other than that, you should have no problems when travelling to and from the park.

If you plan on exploring Kigoma or any other of the towns, we recommend that you avoid walking around alone, and never at night. Practice good sense and follow basic safety precautions, and you should be fine.

Drinking Water
Gombe Stream is a remote park that can only be reached by boat. It may be best to stick to bottled water.