Gombe Stream National Park is a lonely and endangered chimpanzee habitat hemmed in by the steep hills and river valleys that surround the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Tanzania’s Gombe National Park is the smallest of the country’s national parks.
When visiting Rubanda Island or any of the other northern parks, you can take a diversion to Gombe. We sometimes combine Gombe Mountain National Park with its sister park, Mahale Mountain National Park.
While wandering through the ancient trees of Gombe Stream, you feel a surge of exhilaration in your body. For a split second, I’m startled by an eager whoop from deep in the forest, which is quickly joined by a dozen additional voices, rising in volume, speed, and pitch to a frenzied screeching crescendo.
What you’re hearing now is the famed “pant-hoot” call, a bonding rite that helps participants to recognize one another by their distinctive vocal styles.
This spine-chilling eruption also suggests that man’s closest genetic relative, the chimpanzee, is about to make eye contact.
Humans and chimps share over 98 percent of their genes. You don’t have to be a scientist to tell the difference between the celebrities’, powerbrokers’, and supporting characters’ different repertoires of pants, hoots, and screams.
When you gaze into a chimp’s eyes, which are examining you in return, you might notice a glint of understanding – a look of apparent recognition across the smallest of species borders.
When you visit Gombe, you’re almost certain to run into some of the other mammals. Other primates such as beachcomber olive baboons, red-tailed and red colobus monkeys — the latter of which is frequently hunted by chimps – cling to the forest canopy.
This little national park is home to almost 200 different bird species. You may expect to observe a variety of birds, ranging from the famed fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s twinspots that tamely bounce around the visitors’ center.
After nightfall, the lanterns of hundreds of little wooden boats bobbing on the lake like a vast city add to the magnificent night sky.