Gombe Stream National Park

Chimpanzees, our next of kin in the animal world, sharing 98 to 99 percent of our genes, use tools, behave in complex social relationships in many ways similar to humans, and show facial expressions of anger, puzzlement, and joy. None of this was known when Dr. Jane Goodall began her pioneering work in 61-square-mile (158-km2) Gombe Stream in 1960. Scientists first doubted, then believed her evidence. Now she and her chimps are renowned, and this small area is a protected national park, where it’s possible to stop by and see them all year. It’s not easy. Travel to the park is by water only, from Ujiji or Kigoma. Overnight facilities are limited and need to be booked well ahead. A guide is required for walking around the area. It’s necessary to be careful. Chimps are strong and unpredictable and while fascinating, can be dangerous, even though Goodall’s work has habituated them to humans. Among Goodall’s discoveries is that they are capable of murder and cannibalism. Good reading is her In The Shadow of Man.

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