Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Ngamba Island, Uganda
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary Reviews
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Sep 14, 2014
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is about a 45 minute boat trip away from Entebbe, in Lake Victoria. It is run as a home for orphaned chimps, and those that have been rescued from the pet or bush meat trades.
Chimpanzees are hard to release into the wild, because they are highly territorial and a chimp that is just set free might well be killed. This means that the sanctuary is the best home for these chimpanzees. They live in the forested island, which provides them with 95 or so acres to explore. This is enough to keep them happy, but not enough to provide enough food for 47 chimpanzees, so they are fed four times a day by the staff on the island. A day trip will give you enough time to attend one of the feeding sessions, and the island also lets people who have had extra vaccinations pay for a tent for overnight and interact more closely with the animals.
The chimpanzees are fascinating to watch. At feeding time, they come in from the forest to wait for their fruit and vegetables, and squabble over the best parts. Sara, one of the youngest chimpanzees, has learned to roll over like a gymnast, and many of them have perfected a very human looking “gimme” gesture. Many of the chimpanzees are learning to use sticks to reach for fruit that falls short of the fence - some are clearly more expert than others and it’s clear how close a relative they are to humans when you watch them interacting. Chimpanzees have clear social statuses, but the guide said that they feed the low status animals a bit more when they come in at night to make sure they have enough to eat.
It’s clearly very sad that the sanctuary has to exist, but it’s great that there is a safe haven for animals who cannot return to the wild, and with a lot more space and social interaction than they would get in a zoo. Some of the animals have obviously suffered before they came; the guide explained that the ones with grey coats in particular had lost fur because of stress. The charity that runs the sanctuary makes sure they get veterinary care and acclimatises new chimps slowly so that they learn how to get on with the existing troop, starting with the older females who can look after them.
The island itself is lovely. As well as the chimps, I saw several Nile Monitor lizards (about a metre long with lovely yellow markings, who go for a swim if humans get too close), an African Fish Eagle, and lots of cormorants and egrets.
We paid $85 each for the boat ride and admission to the island, with lunch costing a little bit more. There is (of course) a gift shop. The boat has proper life jackets. I think you might struggle if you were disabled, but it should be fine with any child who can be trusted on a boat. The boat trip there and back is a significant portion of your time, and I’ve seen trip advisor reviews being very negative about that, but I quite enjoyed it - and it’s not like you could leave the chimps roaming around in the Entebbe Botanics, is it?
Part of the Uganda 2014 travel blog
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Chimpanzee Sanctuary Aug 14, 2009
This is a primate sanctuary for Chimpanzees. It is located southeast of Uganda’s International Airport, Entebbe and about 23 kilometers from the capital Kampala. This Chimpanzee sanctuary was constructed in 1998 to protect orphaned chimps. Most of the chimps become orphaned as a result of poaching. Even though poaching is illegal, you still find a few cases here and there.
The Island is part of the Kome archipelago, a group of about 15 different Islands on Lake Victoria seperated from the North shores of the Lake. It was chosen as a sanctuary because it was uninhabited with the natural setting identical to that in which many Chimpanzees live. The sanctuary is supported by Uganda Wildlife Education Center, Born Free Foundationand Jane Goodall Institute.
Many Tour companies in Kampala provided guided tours to and from the Island. The tours includes Chmpanzee viewing and feeding, Nature walks, Informative tours and boat rides.
Price: Uganda is generally an expensive country. Tour prices are never set the same so it is hard to quote the price. When I was there last (which is more than 3 years now), we paid $185 per person in a group of 8 for an overnight trip. I recommend you check prices from different tour companies to find what suits your budget. I was a travel consultant so I got better rates too.
Accommodation: There is accommodation on the island so you can stay overnight and participate in the staff meetings and enjoy the very dedicated staff that take care of the chimps. This is a typical jungle so there is no electricity in some of the accommodation and you will have to wash like you have never before. Hand filled water buckets for your bath, exciting indeed. Ngamba Island Tented Camp is run by Wild Frontiers tour company and provides pretty good accommodation. I would recommend an overnight or two nights to expereince the amazing chimpanzees.
PS: Why leave for tomorrow, what you can acomplish today?
Part of the Uganda Travels! travel blog
6 / 6 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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