Gombe National Park Tanzania
Gombe National Park is found in Tanzania which is located in eastern region of the African continent along the geographical co-ordinate of 04o40’s 29o38’e. gombe national park is located in the western end of Tanzania along the shores of lake Tanganyika which borders Gombe National Park in the west, this national park is found along the ridges of the western arm of the rift valley. This gives gombe a diverse vegetation cover that runs from grasslands to woodland and tropical rain forest.
Gombe national park was created in 1968 spanning over a distance of 13.5sqkm and this makes it Tanzania’s smallest national park. Gombe National Park is famous for being a research station in which primatologist jane Goodall carried out research on the behaviors of chimpanzees. She conducted most o her research on a chimpanzee community call the kasekela community which habituate in the tropical forests of gombe. Besides the various chimpanzee communities that call the gombe forests their home, Gombe National Park is a habitat to many other primates and these include the olive baboons, red colobus, vervet monkeys red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys and to over 250 bird species such as African broadbill, black saw wing, crowned eagle, double toothed barbet, Kenyan rufous sparrow, livingstone, red chested cuckoo, ross’s turaco, yellow rumped tinkerbird, palm nut vulture.
Gombe National Park experiences a quite different climate pattern unlike the conventional tropical forests which have two different wet seasons but for gombe national park, its experiences one continuous rain season and one dry season. The rain season begins around November- April and during this time rain usually comes in the afternoon and temperatures range from a minimum of 17oc or 63of usually at night and a maximum of 25oc or 77of realized during day time. The dry season begins from May- October but rains may still be around in may, during the dry season there are little or no chances of rain, temperatures range from the minimum of 15oc or 59of during the nights and a maximum of 27oc or 81of.
Attractions in Gombe National Park Tanzania
Gombe National Park is a habitat to many primates and these include the chimpanzees, olive baboons, red colobus, vervet monkeys red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys and to over 250 bird species such as African broadbill, black saw wing, crowned eagle, double toothed barbet, Kenyan rufous sparrow, livingstone, red chested cuckoo, ross’s turaco, yellow rumped tinkerbird, palm nut vulture.
Chimpanzees; These are close relatives of humans with a 99% matching DNA to that of humans, there are two species of chimpanzees, Common chimpanzee species and the Bonobo species. Gombe National Park has the common chimpanzee species. An adult Common chimpanzee can weigh between 40-60 kg with a height of 1.6 meters or 5ft3inches while an adult female can weigh between 32-47kg with a height of 1.3 meters or 4feet3inches. Common chimpanzees have coarse black hair except on their toes, face, fingers, palms of the hands and the soles of their feet. The chimpanzees have a firm grip because their thumbs and big toes are opposite to each other. These chimpanzees live in communities usually between 10-100 individuals, chimpanzee communities are led by a dominant male called the alpha male. The alpha male might not be the strongest male chimp in the community but rather the most canning and political. Besides protecting the community from external invasion and internal bickering among the individuals, the alpha male also spends its time grooming the other young males in the community. The females on the other hand spend time taking care of the young ones. Chimpanzees reach puberty stage between 10-12 years and an adult female can produce between 4-6 babies throughout their lifetime. The chimps sleep in a different nest everyday which they build using a tree branches, twigs and leaves. Chimpanzees have a life span of up to 40 years in their natural habitat, this can increase to up to 50 years of age in captivity. The chimps have a gestation period of 8 months.
Olive baboons; This derives its name from its coat which is a shade of grey-green. At close range its coat is multi colored due to presence of yellow brown to black rings on its hairs. These primates have sexual dimorphism with a male olive baboon having a shoulder length of about 70cm or 28in while the female stands at 60cm or 24in. They have an average body length of about 85cm or 33in and a body weight that averages around 24kg or 53ib for males and 14.7kg or 32ib for females. These baboons have an elongated dog like muzzle. The tail of this baboon measures 38-58cm or 15-23in and for its first quarter this tail is erect but it suddenly drops down after that. These baboons live in large groups numbering from 15-150 individuals and they maintain a strict social hierarchy which is hereditary for females as daughters have almost the same social status as their mothers. For male olive baboons, group dominance is competed for and when an older baboon is deposed from his title by a new and younger challenger, he is usually harassed by the younger ones and this might force the older baboon to move to a new tribe altogether. Females always stay in their natal groups for life but males leave their natal groups when they attain maturity and join other groups and as a result, related females in a group form subgroup and usually tend to stay together and fight together in case of aggression within the group. Olive baboons usually forge friendships especially between a male and female baboon which is very long lasting and its quite beneficial to both animals as the male will be helped to easily integrate into the group when he has just joined and will also have high chances of mating with his female friend later on in life, the female baboon in returns gets a friend who helps her baby sit her baby as she forages freely without having a burden of carrying her baby all the time. Females reach sexual maturity aged 7-8years while it takes 10 years for males to reach sexual maturity. During ovulation, female’s anogenital area swells and develops a bright red or pink color, the irony is that a female with a very swollen anogenital stands high chances producing while she is younger and even produce more offsprings per year with a high chance of survival. Females during mating season may copulate with many males but it’s also possible for a male to monopolize a female during this period of copulation. When a baby is born its very frail and weak and it will largely depend on its mother’s support to put it on her back but by the end of its first week, its strong enough to keep itself on its mother’s back. These baboons usually don’t carry out allo-mothering but it’s possible for a female to look after a baby that’s not hers. This is done by female juveniles of a lower rank. These baboons communicate with a wide range of vocalization and facial expressions. These vocalisations include a roar grunt made by adult males displaying to each other, “coughback” or cough geck” for sighted low flying birds and humans that aren’t known to them, a “wa-hoo” call for a sighted predator and many others. These baboons have adapted themselves to eating almost everything from leaves, fruits, flowers, seeds, tubers, grass, lichens, corms, rhizomes both on ground and in tree canopies. They also prey on insects, small rodents, hares, and foxes and this explains why this baboon species is successful in habituating in various areas that are different in terms of food availability.
Vervet monkeys; These monkeys have an overall grizzled grey hair color with black face and white fringes of hair. These also exhibit sexual dimorphism with males being larger than females. Vervet monkeys stay in groups ranging between 10-70 individuals. When male vervet monkeys reach sexual maturity, they have to live their natal groups and move to neighboring groups but their sisters stay in the same group for life. Female vervet monkeys have a gestation period of about 165 days and they give birth to a baby with an average weight of about 300-500g. The newly born baby will receive a lot of love from all the family members as female monkeys in the group have been recorded taking turns in touching or sniffing the baby, these monkeys practice allo-mothering where female juveniles will take care of the baby as a way of practicing to take care of their own when time comes, this in return enables a mother shorten her inter-birth period as she decreases the amount care and attention she gives to the baby as time goes on. These monkeys follow a strict hierarchy and juveniles are likely to easily look after a baby that belongs to a mother of a higher social status in the group. Vervet mothers have been recorded to recognize screams of their own babies in case the baby screams, its mother takes the shortest time to look towards the direction where the scream came from and stay in that position longer to ascertain what’s happening to its baby, it has also been recorded that other mothers in the group will look at the mother whose baby has made a scream. These monkeys feed mostly on fruits, flowers, seeds and seed pods but they can also be carnivorous preying on grass hoppers termites and infants of cattle egrets. These monkeys also preyed on and their biggest predators include leopards, eagles and African rock pythons and as a result they developed alarm calls to warn others of the loaming danger. It is believed that these monkeys have about 30 different distinctive alarm calls to warn themselves of the different predators approaching.
Red tailed monkeys ; These monkeys are known as the Schmidt guenon. This monkey species is usually red, black or orange in color with a red coloring at its tail. This species has a body length of between 1-2 feet excluding the tail, the males weigh between 7-10 pounds by adulthood age while adult females weigh between 6-8 pounds. The red tailed monkeys are frictivoruous feeding mostly on a fruit diet. These monkeys can live in groups ranging between 7-30 individuals led by a dominant male. The red tailed monkeys are very active during early morning and late evening.
Blue monkey; Unlike what its name suggests, the blue monkey isn’t entirely blue but rather it has little hairs on its face with a bluish color and these led to naming this monkey species blue monkey. The blue monkey in actual sense is mainly grey or olive but its face is dark with a pale or yellowish patch on the forehead. Its feet, front legs and cap are blackish while its mantle may be brown, olive or grey. The blue monkey has a body length of between 50-65cm with the tail included and an adult male weigh about 8kg while an adult female weighs about 4kg hence exhibiting sexual dimorphism. These monkeys live in groups of 10-40 individuals and the females will stay in their natal groups throughout their lifetime while males live their parent group when they mature. The family is usually led by an adult female and its consists of many other females, babies and juveniles and one adult male. These monkeys practice allo-mothering with many female monkeys usually juveniles looking after the babies. Their gestation period is about 5 months while their diet consists of mainly fruits during periods of abundance but they can also feed on flowers twigs and insects, figs and leaves.
red colobus monkey; The Ugandan red colobus monkey has a rust red cap a dark grey to black face. The male Ugandan red colobus is larger than its female counterpart weighing in at 10.5kg while female weighs in at 7.5kg. this species of monkeys is purely herbivores with a diet dominated by leaves. these monkeys live in groups with many males and they consist between 3-85 individuals. The size of the group is majorly determined by the number of males available in it and female Ugandan red colobus will easily leave a group with few males and join another one with many males. The Ugandan red colobus female monkeys groom all other monkeys in the group. These monkeys have exhibited a strange character of associating with other species of monkeys mainly for protection purpose from predators like the crown eagle and chimpanzees.
More Attractions in Birds in Gombe National Park in Tanzania
Gombe national park I home to about 250 bird species and these include African broadbill, black saw wing, crowned eagle, double toothed barbet, Kenyan rufous sparrow, livingstone’s turaco, red chested cuckoo, ross’s turaco, yellow rumped tinkerbird, palm nut vulture.
Black saw wing; The black saw wing is also called the blue saw wing or black rough winged swallow. This bird has its entire plumage in a blue glossed black color, this bird has a body length of 13-15cm and its tail is forked. Juveniles are usually brown with little gloss with short tails. Not very vocal but their sound calls are a high pitched “see – see” sound. Their diet includes beetles, flies, ants.
Ross’s turaco; These birds have a deep shade blue with red head crowns and flight feathers, with females having slightly more yellow green beaks while the males’ beaks are a bright yellow. These birds have a forehead that flares to a medium orange. The wings of are round and short designed for short bursts. These birds have a body length of 15-18in while their weight is just below a pound. They have a life span of about 8-20 years. These birds are monogamous breeders with both males and females sharing incubation and feeding duties and the female lays a clutch of 2-3 eggs that is incubated after about 25 days, the hatchlings become fledged after 4-7 weeks although they gain their independence before they fully fledge.
Yellow rumped tinkerbird; This tinker bird has a black head, white eye stripe, black bill and legs, its primary flight feathers have yellow and black colors, its throat is white while its breast and underparts are yellowish. The yellow rumped tinkerbird has a body length of 10-12c and an average body weight of 11-18.6g. it makes a voice call of “pop” notes
Red chested cuckoo; The adult male red chested cuckoo has a dark grey colour on the on their upper body parts, the throat and sides of the head are pale grey while its tail is dark grey with white tip. The breast of this bird is usually rufous or cinnamon and barred but its under belly is of a creamy white colour or pale buff. The female red chested cuckoo is similar to the male only that its breast is duller with variable amount of buff. This bird has a body length of 31cm and weigh about 75g. it makes a voice call of a loud emphatic three note song that drops in pitch with a “piet-my-vrow” sound. It mainly feeds on catepillars, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders and slugs
African broad bill; This is a boldly streaked, largely brown, stocky fly catcher like bird, the males have a black crown while the females have a grey crown, their body length ranges between 12-14 cm. this bird produces a loud sound during flight that vibrates “prrrrup” which can be compared to an old fashioned car horn and this is followed by softer “tui-tui-tui” calls.
Kenya rufous sparrow; The Kenya rufous sparrow has its cape, ear coverts and cheeks in a blue grey colour, its throat, chin and lores are colored black, the underparts of the Kenya rufous sparrow are of a light grey colour. This bird has brown upper parts with black primary and secondary feathers, its bill is short and black in colour. The keny rufous sparrow makes a loud “chreep, chreep” sound or an upward in-flected cher-weep sound. This bird feeds on small insects, grains and domestic scraps. This bird has a body length of 13-14cm and weighs between 25-32g.
Double toothed barbet; This bird is a largely white billed red and black barbet. The male has a glossy black above with small white patch on lower back, narrow red wingbar. This bird species has 23cm of body length and weighs between 65-91g. This bird makes a voice call of a buzzy trill with doubled notes at 23-35 per second for up to 15 second. This bird mainly eats fruits like avacodo, papayas, fruit of musanga and red peppers and palm nuts.
Crowned eagle; The crown eagle has a body length of 80-99cm making it the fifth longest eagle in the world. The male crowned eagle weighs in between 2.55-4.12kg or 5.1-9.1ib while females weighing less than males between 3.2-4.7kg or 7.1-10.6ib. These eagles have a wingspan of over 1.51-1.81m or 4ft 11in-5ft11in. The crowned eagles have long tails that measure between 30-41cm or 12-16in they have a medium sized bill compared to their body size and this bill is 5.5cm. their feet and legs are thicker and heavier and these give them the ability to carry prey that is can be almost double their body size or even more. Adult female crowned eagles have a striking plumage. The crown of this eagle is dark or rufous tinged brown and their prominent often raised black tipped double crescent. the grey crowned eagle’s diet consists of small mammals like the rock hyrax, vervet monkeys, duikers.
Palm nut vulture; palm vulture is an old-world vulture that is also referred to as the vulturine fish eagle. This bid is mainly white on its plumage but has black feathers on its wings and tail. It has red patches around the eyes. The palm nut vulture is the smallest of the old-world vultures weighing 1.3-3.7kg or 2.9-3.7ib and a body length of 60cm or 24in with a wing span of 150cm or 59in. both the female and male birds are almost similar except that the females are slightly larger than the males. Palm nut vultures take between 3-4 years to mature and have brown and yellow eye patches. These birds make their nests using small tree branches high up on trees. The palm nut vultures mainly feed on fresh fruit husks of palm oil, small reptiles, eggs and reptile hatchlings make it to this vulture’s diet as well as frogs, fish, locusts and small mammals.
Activities in Gombe National Park in Tanzania
Gombe National Park has activities that range from chimpanzee tracking, primate viewing, nature walks, birding
Chimpanzee tracking; Gombe National Park is home to of the longest habituated communities of chimpanzees since the days of jane Goodall when she spent numerous years here studying chimpanzee behaviors, this makes many chimpanzees communities in Gombe National Park hospital to human presence and this will work in your favor as you will easily get close to these chimpanzees and observe their behaviors, feeding and nurturing of their young ones.
Primate tracking or viewing ; Gombe national park is not only home to chimpanzees but also other primates such as the olive baboons, red colobus, vervet monkeys red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys. This park has a big group of habituated baboons usually found along the shores of Lake Tanganyika hence making viewing of these primates easy.
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Accessing Gombe National Park in Tanzania
Gombe national park can be accessed by both air transport and water transport
From Kigoma town you need to take a water taxi or a public boat ride to the park along Lake Tanganyika will last about 4 hours.
International flights in Tanzania are mostly received at Kilimanjaro international airport in Arusha and Julius Nyerere airport outside Dar es salaam. From any of these airports you can easily get a domestic that can fly you Kigoma airport then from Kigoma town you take a boat ride to gombe national park. International Airlines that have flights to Tanzania airports include
Brussels airlines Fly emirates British airways
Ethiopian airways RwandAir
Turkish airways Condor
KLM Airlines Kenya airways Qatar arways
Fly emirates British airways
Ethiopian airways RwandAir
Turkish airways Condor
Accommodations/ safari lodges/ hotels in and around Gombe National Park in Tanzania
Gombe National Park Tanzania offers you accommodation to suite your budget as it lodging facilities ranging from luxury/ up market to mid-range to low budget lodging facilities. Some of these lodges include the following
Kigoma hilltop hotel; Kigoma town along bangwe street. 30 guestrooms that come in double and family occupancy. all rooms come with a private bathroom flat screen tv with satellite chanel and free toiletries and lake view. all rooms come with a private bathroom flat screen tv with satellite chanel and free toiletries and lake view
imperial hotel ; located along Lumumba street. various rooms that come in double and triple occupancy. all rooms come with a private bathroom, writing desk and some have a balcony.restaurant, lounge area, free wi-fii, laundry sevices, airport shuttle, private parking
leaders lodge; located in Kigoma city. 23 guestrooms that ome in single double and family occupancy. all rooms come with a private bathroom free toiletries. restaurant, lounge area, air conditioning, garden, front desk service, self service laundry
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Best time to visit Gombe National Park in Tanzania
Gombe national park can be visited throughout the year with the most convenient time being during the dry season June- November as these chimpanzees will be near and easy to track.