Home to Jane Goodall’s pioneering chimpanzee project
“Chimpanzees have given me so much. The long hours spent with them in the forest have enriched my life beyond measure. What I have learned from them has shaped my understanding of human behaviour, of our place in nature.” Jane Goodall
Tanzania’s smallest national park (just 52km2), Gombe Stream rises steeply from the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika to the Rift Valley escarpment. Synonymous with Jane Goodall, whose groundbreaking chimpanzee project started here in 1960, the park is home to around 100 chimps. Aside from chimps, Gombe is home to a troop of exceptionally habituated beachcomber olive baboons. While red-tailed and red colobus monkeys – the latter regularly hunted by chimps – stick to the forest canopy.
There’s also rich picking for birdwatchers, with 200-plus species to look out for.
Africa’s premier chimp-tracking destination
“A continuous screeching emanates through the forest. We catch sight of a large male chimp, swinging from branch to branch. He pauses, hanging for a while. He manoeuvres himself along the branch, before reaching out a long arm to grab a fruit snack…”
The steep jungle-clad slopes of Mahale Mountains are home to around 1,000 of Africa’s remaining wild chimpanzees. Known as one of the most isolated parks in Africa, Mahale covers 1613km2 of rugged terrain along the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika. Its tranquil white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters are a welcome spot to rest up after a hard day tracking chimps. You can often spot warthog and bushbuck wandering on the sand.
The park is also home to many other species, including leopard, various antelope, a wealth of other primates and forest birds, many of which are normally associated with West Africa.
One of Africa’s greatest secrets
“A true wilderness, teeming with game, evoking for those few intrepid souls who make it there a thrilling taste of Africa as it must have been a century ago...”
Said to have the greatest density of wildlife of any park in Africa, Katavi is one of the continent’s best-kept secrets. Located miles off-the-beaten track in the southwest of the country, in a shallow arm of the Rift Valley, Katavi is Tanzania’s third-largest national park. The brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa (the largest body of water entirely within Tanzania) makes up its southern border. Utterly remote (some 3-5 days drive from Arusha or Dar es Salaam) it receives fewer than 1,000 visitors a year.
However, for those hardy souls that make it there, the journey is more than worthwhile. Practically inaccessible during the rains, Katavi is best visited in the dry season when sightings of lion, elephant, thousand-strong buffalo herds and large pods of hippo are prevalent.
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