Tanzania hosts two healthy chimp populations on the forested shores of Lake Tanganyika. Watching these intelligent close relatives our ours is a life changing experience. Chimpanzees are very social animals with groups revolving around dominant males who are the core of the group whereas females emigrate when young. Due to long term researcher on the chimps they are very habituated allowing for you to watch them closely. Allot of time is social time mostly conducted in grooming one another. Chimps are omnivorous but mainly rely on fruits, shoots and leaves. They can also be observed hunting other primates and if lucky using tools such as small branches to extract termites/ants from nests.
Mahale National Park This park is part of a beautiful forested mountain range that meets the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The stark comparison between the dense forests and the secluded beaches among granite boulders make for a breathtaking setting. The chimps are being researched by a Japanese team that started in the 1960s and has led to very habituated chimps allowing for great chimp viewing in their natural state. Mahale has higher end accommodations' that can be reached via chartered smaller flights. This is a great way to treat yourself with some luxury at the end of your trip.
Gombe National Park This is a park where Jane Goodall researched and habituated the chimps. The viewing of chimps is very comparable to Mahale. With new flights flying from Dar es salaam to Kigoma makes this park a much more affordable way to see the chimps. One can go on day trips to Gombe based out of Kigoma or stay in the park itself.
Eastern Chimpanzee P. troglodytes schweinfurthii
Watching these great apes is truly a remarkable experience. Their are just over 1,000 mt gorilla's still living in the wild. In smaller groups one can trek into the Virunga Massif (Rwanda & Congo) or Bwindi in Uganda. These are the only areas that they still live in the wild.All areas offer similar Gorilla viewing opportunities but each country is different in culture and offer other elements of adventure. The Gorilla groups are well monitored and quite habituated allowing for close sightings where one can observe natural behavior from feeding, to social behavior.
Rwanda This country offers gorilla treks on the south east side of the Virunga Volcanoes. The park is very organized and almost always guaranteeing a great gorilla viewing. There are now flights from Rwanda directly into the Serengeti making this an easy way to add this adventure to the beginning of your Safari.
Democratic Republic of Congo Viewing the Gorillas in the Virunga National Park is by far a much more raw African experience. This park gets very few visitors making it a more authentic experience. One can fly into Goma airstrip in the Congo but it is often easier driving in from Rwanda. In the Virunga's one has the opportunity to hike Nyiragongo Volcano which has views of the world's largest lava lake. This is a two day hike and one stays in huts on the crater rim. See picture of the lava lake on the last slide.
40 Years of Dorobo Safaris: Connecting People, Wildlife, and Education in the Heart of Tanzania's Natural Wonders