While many people picture Tanzania as primarily a place to see wildlife like lions and elephants, it’s also a great place to see chimpanzees.
Though they aren’t as widespread in the country as other wildlife, there are still several places to see them.
If you want to follow in the footsteps of Jane Goodall and track chimpanzees in their natural habitat, head straight to Gombe Stream National Park.
It’s the smallest park in the country at only 20 sq miles (50 sq km) and is located on the northern shore of Lake Tanganykia.
Goodall originally arrived at the park to study chimpanzees in 1960 and the rest is history.
One of the original chimpanzees, Fifi, is still living and is regularly seen by visitors.
If you need a place to stay, the Gombe Forest Lodge is the only lodge inside the park and features elegantly furnished luxury tents to minimize the disturbance of the surrounding environment.
Another place where you can see chimps is at Gombe’s northern neighbor, Mahale Mountains National Park.
Mahale has a population of around 900 chimpanzees that have been habituated by human visitors since the 1960s.
You can take an excursion in the area (plan for two days) to see many groups of chimpanzees at play.
The park also features Angola colobus, red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys.
For lodging at Mahale, go with the Greystoke Mahale through Nomad Tanzania, it’s one of the few places to stay in the area.
If you are going to either park, the best time to go is during the dry season (May-October), when chimpanzees are more likely to be seen in big groups.
However, if you can’t go in the dry season, you can still see chimpanzees year round in the parks.
The best time of day to see them is usually in the early morning, as that is when they are the most active.
To get to the parks, you’ll first need to get to Kigoma, where you can then reach the parks by boat, car, or light aircraft.
There are regularly scheduled flights to Kigoma from Dar es Salaam and Arusha.