Gombe Stream National Park

Size: 20 sq. miles (52 sq. km.) – Best Chimpanzees Viewing: Feb.-June, Nov.-Dec. (wet) – Best Photography: July-Oct., Late Dec. (dry)

Sweeping up from the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Gombe Stream National Park is a forested wonder. The smallest of the Tanzanian parks, Gombe Stream owes much of its fame to the studies of Jane Goodall, who conducted her groundbreaking research on the wild chimpanzees in this area.

Indeed, the chimps are one of the main attractions and visitors are overwhelmed by the experience of joining the primates in their natural habitat as they go about their business.

Gombe Stream does not contain roads and observation of wildlife must be done on foot or by boat. (The park is accessed by boat from Kigoma.) It’s a small park, but hilly and some trails can be demanding. Chimpanzee treks and swimming in the rivers and lake can be arranged as well as a visit to the chimpanzee feeding station.

Did you know?

Stanley’s famous encounter with Dr. Livingstone took place near Kigoma in a place called Ujiji.
.

Accommodation

Camping in the park

Camping on the beach is allowed; however, remember that animals will be attracted to food and can be very destructive so be sure to secure all your supplies.

Hostel

At the park headquarters visitors may spend the night in one of several buildings but be sure to bring all your own supplies.

Kigoma Hilltop Hotel

Overlooking the blue waters of Lake Tanganyika from a rocky outcropping above, the Hilltop Hotel offers 30 luxury cottages each with hot/cold water, ensuite bathroom facilities, satellite TV and beautiful views.
.
.

Chimpanzee image: Copyright (C) Delphine Bruyere

Mahale Mountains National Park

Size: 1,600 sq. km. Best Time to Visit: Oct. – May

Located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on the western border of Tanzania, Mahale Mountains National Park combines elements of eastern and western African flora and fauna.

Walking is the only way to get around in this research and conservation-oriented park, which is home to nine different species of primates including the last wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. The park is home to lions, leopards, and African hunting dogs as well as eland, kudu, buffalo and hundreds of insect species including a striking array of butterflies.

The sunsets over Lake Tanganyika are stunning and the park is hailed as one of the most beautiful in the country. Snorkelling and fishing in the lake can also be arranged. The park itself is one of the least accessible in Tanzania, requiring long journeys by boat and train/automobile unless you arrange for a private charter flight.
.

Accommodation

Nare Sero Luxury Tented Lodge

The tented lodge at Mahale is brand new and promises to deliver one of the only luxury accommodation experiences available in western Tanzania.

Camping in the park

There are rudimentary camping facilities in the park, bring your own tent and supplies.

Kigoma Hilltop Hotel

Overlooking the blue waters of Lake Tanganyika from a rocky outcropping above, the Hilltop Hotel offers 30 luxury cottages each with hot/cold water, ensuite bathroom facilities, satellite TV and beautiful views.
.
.

Rubondo Island National Park

Size: 450 sq. km. (including water area) Best time: June-Aug. (dry); Nov.-March (wet: birds, flowers)

Rubondo Island National Park is composed of Rubondo Island itself and eight smaller islands in Lake Victoria, just off the Tanzanian coast. The islands are very secluded and offer a glimpse of unique African habitats and wildlife. Most of the park is primary forest with a dense canopy; papyrus beds and grassland make up the rest.

Rubondo Island is home to many Sitatunga, a type of aquatic antelope that cannot be observed anywhere else in Tanzania. Rubondo is also a good place to observe chimpanzee as well as colobus and vervet monkeys, crocodiles, hippos, elephants, eagles and storks. The experience of Rubondo Island is unique in that, due to the lack of large predators, visitors can explore the African wilds on foot. The island is a naturalist’s delight with myriads of exotic orchids, lilies, insects and trees.

Although the island takes a while to reach, its pristine seclusion is well worth the trip. Chimpanzee treks, boat and walking safaris and fishing are all available. Luxury camping is possible on the island itself with advance reservations.

Did you know?

Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater lake in the world, second only to Lake Superior on the border of Canada and the United States.

.

Accommodation

Camping in the park

Rudimentary camping facilities are available on the island; be sure to take all your own equipment and supplies.

Luxury Tented Camp

Flycatcher Hotel Ltd. have opened a 20-bed luxury camp on Rubondo Island.

.

.