Secluded habitat of the great chimpanzee
MAHALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Mahale is one of the top destinations for chimpanzee tracking, with an estimated population of 700 – 1,000 individuals divided across several communities. The setting of Mahale is beautiful, as it is situated on the clear blue waters of Lake Tanganyika. In addition to chimp tracking, activities in Mahale include fishing, boating and kayaking.
GOMBE STREAM NATIONAL PARK
Gombe Stream is best known for the groundbreaking chimpanzee research conducted there by Dr. Jane Goodall. Even though it is one of the best-known parks in Tanzania, few tourists visit due to the large expense and its location far from the traditional safari route. Gombe Stream has the highest park fee in Tanzania.
Jane Goodall began her work in the park in 1960, and Gombe’s chimpanzee research project is the longest-running study of an individual wild animal population in the world. Much of Goodall’s research, though initially controversial, has now been widely accepted. For those interested in reading more about Jane Goodall’s work, In the Shadow of Man and Through a Window discuss Goodall’s life and work in Gombe from 1960 until 2000.
Gombe Stream is home to approximately 100 chimpanzees divided among three communities. They are most easily seen during the dry season months when the groups forage at lower elevations. Finding chimps takes from less than one hour to four hours depending on the group’s location.
KATAVI NATIONAL PARK
Although Katavi National Park is Tanzania’s third largest national park, it is one of the least visited savannah reserves. Wildlife viewing is excellent during the dry season of June through October, when game concentrates around the three floodplains in the park. The park’s lifeline is the Katuma River, which all but dries out during the dry season. Hundreds of hippos can be seen occupying small pools during the dry season and bloody hippo fights are a common occurrence. Crocodile, buffalo, elephant and lion are seen in the park along with many antelope species. Katavi should be avoided during the rainy season when mosquitoes are abundant and game viewing difficult. However, during the dry season it is a spectacular site and is reminiscent of what safaris were like 30 years ago.