Gombe National Park

Gombe is the smallest of Tanzania's national parks: a fragile strip of chipanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that hem in the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Its chimpanzee habituated to human visitors were made famous by the pioneering work of Dr. Jane Goodall, who in 1960 founded a behavioural research program that now stands as the longest running study of its kind in the world. The matriarch Fifi, the last surviving member of the original community, only three-years old when Dr. Jane Goodall first set foot in Gombe, born 1958 and died in 2004.

Chimpanzee share about 98% of their genes with human, and no scientific expertise is required to distinguish between the individual repertoires of pants, hoots and screams that define the celebrities, the powerbrokers, and the supporting characters. 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 alive baboons, under study since the 1960s, is exceptionally habituated, while red-tailed and red colobus monkey - the latter regularly hunted by chimps - stick to the forest canopy. The park's 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter's twin spots that hop tamely around the visitor's centre. The park is located 16km north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania.

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