Discover Tanzania’s Chimpanzee Trekking in Mahale & Gombe Stream

Booking Tanzania Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris to Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream National Parks is an excellent way to observe the common chimpanzee species that have adapted to these two Tanzanian safari destinations. Tanzania offers a wide range of exciting activities, including encounters with various wildlife, diverse plant species, and primates for trekking.

While the chimpanzee trekking experience in Tanzania is different from that in Uganda, you may also consider booking a trek to Kibale Forest National Park in Uganda for an even more enjoyable experience. However, if you insist on a chimpanzee trekking Tanzania experience, we can organize one for you at the best cost.

Top Tanzania Chimpanzee Tours

Ultimate Guide for Chimpanzee Trekking in Tanzania

In Tanzania, Chimpanzee trekking is done in basically two famous destinations of Mahale and Gombe Stream national parks.

Located in western Tanzania, beside Lake Tanganyika and bordered to the south by Burundi is Gombe Stream National Park.

Tanzania’s smallest national park occupies roughly 20 sq km, yet it is famous for being Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee research center.

The prime attraction at this amazing destination is the chimpanzee family that lives protected within the park’s boundaries.

Tourists are led by professional guides through the wilderness on foot to catch sight of the fascinating primates, such as the Chimpanzees, Columbus monkeys, vervet monkeys, for the whole morning and additional bonuses of tropical birdlife, small antelopes, and forest pigs that inhabit the dense forest.

The other destination is Mahale Mountains National Park, situated in the Kigoma Region, along the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

The park derives its name from the ranges of Mount Mahale right within its boundaries.

It offers asylum to the largest number of endangered chimpanzees in Mahale Mountains, favored by its remoteness and large size, with the creatures enjoying their safety and stay in this wonderful land.

In addition, these chimpanzees and lions co-exist in the same destination, though it is very safe for a trekking experience.

Up to a maximum of 6 people per group are permitted to track these primates.

Just ensure that you have good hiking shoes for stable movement, a long-sleeved shirt to avoid scratches from tree branches, a trekking permit, water to quench your thirst, a perfect camera for snaps, and binoculars to properly spot distant objects, among other essentials.

Make it a point to follow the rules and regulations that the guides will pronounce during the briefing.

Roughly, 1700 chimpanzees live within Tanzania’s 1613 sq km area, though the main point for visitors is the M’ group, which has been researched for approximately four decades.

Additionally, even though the M group of chimpanzees is well habituated, sighting these humans’ closest relatives is almost always a challenge, but luck can make you meet them easily.

The trekking can last for roughly 1-5 hours.

Chimpanzee trekking is a very interesting activity for all travelers; it is worth a try as you go and visit your closest cousin in the wilderness of Tanzania, and there is something for everyone.

Chimpanzee Species in Tanzania

Much as Tanzania is famously known for great savannah wildlife safaris, primate lovers can also visit the country to see the human like primates, the endangered chimpanzees that can be tracked in Gombe Stream national park and Mahale Mountains national park situated along the shores of Lake Tanganyika and Rubondo Island national park situated in the Southern part of Lake Victoria.

Eastern Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes Schweinfurthii)

This species is the most common of chimpanzee sub-species found in Tanzania and other countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and the Central African Republic.

Places to see the eastern chimpanzees in Tanzania

  • Gombe Stream National Park
  • Mahale Mountains National Park
  • Rubondo Island National Park

With the guidance of an experience guide, go for a chimpanzee trekking experience in any of the above-mentioned locations in Tanzania for a chance to encounter the chimpanzees.

A close encounter with these playful apes, both habituated and wild chimpanzees in their natural habitat can be a thrilling unforgettable experience.

You will need to get a chimpanzee trekking permit before you can trek the chimpanzees of Tanzania.

About Gombe Stream National Park

Gombe Stream national park is located in Kigoma district along the Eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika in the Western part of Tanzania.

Covering an area of 35 km², Gombe stream national park is the smallest national park in the country.

Gombe stream was established as a national park under the management of Tanzania National Park Authority (TANAPA) in 1968.

Location and accessibility

Gombe Stream national park is located in the West of Tanzania, North of Kigoma town, the capital of Kigoma region on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

The park is only accessed by boat across Lake Tanganyika. Fly in on a domestic flight to Kigoma and from there drive to the port for your 2-hour boat ride.

Chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park

The most famous attraction in Gombe Stream national park are the chimpanzees. In 1960, Jane Goodall a primatologist started chimpanzee research in Gombe Stream on understanding the behaviors and all that is there to know about the endangered primate species.

Wildlife in Gombe Stream national park

Gombe stream is famously known as a home to the wild chimpanzees, alongside these playful apes are baboons, colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, hippos, bush pigs, snakes, occasional sightings of leopards, small antelopes among others.

There are about 200 different species of birds in Gombe stream national park.

Activities in Gombe Stream national park

  • Chimpanzee trekking
  • Hiking to Jane’s peak
  • Guided nature walks
  • Swimming in Lake Tanganyika
  • Snorkeling

Attractions in Gombe Stream national park

  • Chimpanzees
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • River valleys
  • Animal life and birdlife
  • Waterfalls

Accommodations in Gombe Stream national park

Gombe Forest Lodge, Hostels (self-catering), Campsites, Guest houses and Kigoma Hilltop hotel

Best time to visit Gombe Stream national park

The best time to be in Gombe Stream national park is during the dry season in the months of July to October when the chimpanzees keep around the lower slopes making it easy to track them down.

The forest trails are drier during this season, hence easy to navigate.

About Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains national park is located in West Tanzania at the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Uvinza District.

It protects the Mahale Mountains from which it gets its name and it is one of the homes of the wild chimpanzees of Tanzania.

Mahale Mountains national park was established in 1985 under the management of Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA).

It covers an area of 1,650 km² covering the Mahale Mountains, evergreen tropical forests, bamboo forests, woodlands, montane grasslands and montane forests.

Location and accessibility of Mahale Mountains

Mahale Mountains national park is located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the West part of Tanzania in Kigoma Region.

Mahale mountains national park can only be accessed by boat across Lake Tanganyika, the longest freshwater lake in the world.

Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains

Chimpanzees are the main attraction of visitors to Mahale Mountains national park.

There are about 1,000 eastern chimpanzees in Mahale mountains national park.

The most famous of the habituated chimpanzee groups is the Mimikire clan made up of over 60 individuals.

Wildlife in Mahale Mountains National Park

About 50 animal species have been recorded in Mahale Mountains national park inclusive of hippos, crocodiles and about 8 different primate species including chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, yellow baboons, vervet monkeys, on rare occasions you could sight some giraffes among others, butterflies and a number of different fish species found in Lake Tanganyika.

The park has a rich bird-life consisting of over 300 bird species including some Albertine Rift endemics.

Activities in Mahale Mountains National Park

  • Chimpanzee trekking
  • Hiking
  • Guided forest / nature walks
  • Boat rides / Dhow cruises
  • Snorkeling in Lake Victoria

Attractions in Mahale Mountains National Park

  • Chimpanzees
  • Mahale Mountains
  • Animal and bird life
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • Breathtaking scenery

Accommodations in Mahale Mountains National Park

Lake Shore Lodge, Greystoke Mahale, Mbali Mbali Mahale and more.

Best time to visit Mahale Mountains National Park

August through to October is the best time to visit Mahale Mountains national park especially for chimpanzee trekking which is easier during these months as the chimpanzees and other animals prefer hanging around the lower slopes.

Tanzania Chimpanzee Permits

Mahale Mountains national park and Gombe Stream national park are homes to the wild chimpanzees of Tanzania.

Both parks are located on the Eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika in Western Tanzania and are only accessed by boat.

Cost of Chimpanzee Permits in Tanzania

  • Chimpanzee permits in Mahale Mountains national park cost US$ 150 per person.
  • Chimpanzee permits in Gombe Stream national park cost US$ 100 per person.

How to get the Tanzania chimpanzee trekking permit?

Visitors can acquire the chimpanzee trekking permits from (TANAPA) Tanzania National Parks Authority or use the services of their trusted tour operators or travel agents to help them in purchasing the chimpanzee trekking permits.

These permits should be booked in advance. Visitors of 15 years and above are allowed to trek chimpanzees in Tanzania.

When to go chimpanzee trekking in Tanzania?

Chimpanzee trekking in Mahale Mountains national park and Gombe Streams national park can be done anytime of the year but better chances of seeing the wild chimpanzees on your trek is during the months of July to October (dry season).

During this period, the chimpanzees can easily be found on the lower slopes and the hiking trails are easy to navigate since they are dry.

During your chimpanzee trekking experience

  • Follow the given guidelines from your chimpanzee trekking park guides
  • Wear comfortable hiking boots / shoes
  • Carry your insect repellent
  • Water bottle and waterproof clothing (jacket / poncho)
  • Stick to the designated trekking tracks
  • No use of the camera flash while taking pictures

Keep a safe distance from the chimpanzees

Tanzania Safari Types

There are various Tanzania safari types that you can book to make your holiday unique.

Check out some of them below.

There are more Tanzania holiday types that can make it easy for you to plan a specific tour type.

See all Tanzania holiday types here

How we work

To offer a more rewarding way to travel, we do stuff the right way; right from the planning process.

We pay attention

We will spend time and pay attention to your expectations, then propose an experience that you might like.

We complement

Next we will discuss our selected options, point out the best safaris for you and make awesome recommendations.

We hold your booking

We will tentatively hold your booking and make reservations while we talk through the safari details or make changes.

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