Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Gombe Stream National Park
Meeting face to face with the Chimps in Gombe Stream National Park (Entry fee is a hefty 100 US$ per person/24 hours) is fantastic, even if you are not a great ape fan in normal life. The National Park, which is tiny, is beautifully located on the slopes of Lake Tanganyika, and was the research grounds of famous Jane Goodall, who did ground breaking analysis on Chimps behaviour and abilities. Her books are well worth to read. However, as much as then, to reach the place, is still an adventure in itself today.
Best is, if you can hire a boat to go to Gombe Stream early in the morning and in the afternoon go for a first guided walk to the Chimps, and for a second walk the next day early in the morning, before you return to Kigoma; The guest house of the National Park (20 US$ per person; In case it should be full, there is also a little barrack with about 4 of 5 little rooms, for about half of the price; ) has only two rooms, but with a beautiful - Baboon save terrace - and you can swim in the lake just a few meters in front of you; Take your own food, there is no shop or restaurant in the park.
Maybe you can arrange a boat with Winchi, Kibirizi Beach, 0741 68 77 61, only Kiswahili speaking; He charged in 2005 90’000 TzSh for a return trip, including an overnight stay, in Gombe; George Kazumbe, 0745 662 129, is said to offer transport for 100US$, with pick up anywhere at the beach (eg. Lake Tanganyika Beach Hotel). If you cannot organize transport ahead, take a taxi down to the fishing harbor and haggle the price, but expect no cheaper than 100 US$ for the boat return trip; Alternatively, you could go by lake taxi, but it takes a long time, and you will be sitting on the edge of a boat for many hours;
A word of care: In case you see a thunderstorm developping over Lake Tanganyika, keep off the water, even if it means that you stay a day longer! Also be strongly advised not to go any closer to the chimps than instructed, even if your guide does go closer; Be at all times attentive not to end up between two chimps; An attack by a chimp can easily be deadly. Around the guest house do not eat any food outside, there are loads of dangerous baboons around! No crocodiles and hippos reported so far, but ask again with the rangers before you go for a swim in the fantastic clear waters of Lake Tanganyika spreading in from of you!

No comments: