Imported from africa.wmf 25/05/2008 18:01:19

Gombe National Park

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Small but so very beautiful, Gombe Stream National Park was first made famous by Jane Goodall’s pioneering work here with chimpanzees, which started in 1960. Gombe is now the site of one of the longest running and most detailed wild animal studies in history, and a mecca for those seeking an intimate chimpanzee-tracking experience.

Accessed by boat, Gombe Stream National Park is located along the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the westernmost region of Tanzania.  Despite its tiny size – it encompasses a narrow area of just 35km2 (14 square miles) – the park has boasts remarkably diverse, undulating terrain, from grasslands, mosaic woodlands and steep valleys to dense tropical rainforest.  The scenery of Gombe is breathtaking, and most of its 16 major valleys contain swift perennial streams.

While chimpanzees are the prime drawcard, Gombe is home to one of the highest concentrations of primates in Africa. Look out for blue monkeys, olive baboons, red colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys and vervet monkeys. The rainy season while the green vegetation blooms (November to mid-May) is the best time of year to spot chimpanzees, while the dry season (late-May to October) is best for short and long hikes. Other wildlife species you may spot include leopards – a key predator of primates – as well as bush pigs, hippos, small antelopes, and various reptiles and snakes. Approximately 200 bird species can be spotted.  Some notable species include the African fish eagle, the palm-nut vulture, the bright red-throated twinspot and three kinds of kingfishers. Colourful butterflies are the silent beauties of the Gombe Forest, which supports between 400 to 500 species.

As well as guided chimpanzee treks, Gombe National Park offers an excellent array of outdoor activities. Forest walks and mountain hikes through the striking terrain immerse you in Gombe’s wild beauty. Trails lead to the gorgeous Kakombe and Mkenke waterfalls. The waters of Lake Tanganyika – the longest and deepest lake in Africa – are calm, clear and rich with colourful life. Enjoy catch-and-release sport fishing, snorkelling, kayaking and swimming, as well as spectacular boat cruises that give you a perspective of the Great Rift Valley escarpment.

For insight into the local culture, visit Mwamgongo Village adjacent to the park. Here you are invited to learn about traditional dances and local art and crafts, including pottery, fabrics, grass hats, mats and baskets using traditional techniques and local materials.

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