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Ngamba Island: A Safe Home For Chimpanzees

In 1998, Dr. Jane Goodall and a small group of pioneering leaders rescued 13 chimpanzees and started the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Ngamba Island is located on Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest lake – about 23 km by boat south-east of Entebbe, near the Equator in Uganda. The island consists of about 100 acres, of which 95 acres is forested and separated from the human camp by an electric fence.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is recognized as one of the leading primate sanctuaries in all of Africa. The sanctuary currently supports over 50 chimpanzees and it is one of the best places to see chimps up-close during your Uganda safaris. 

All the chimps at Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary have been rescued, some from poachers, others were ill or mistreated – none of them can ever go back to the wilds.

However, here, they’re cared for, allowed to roam freely, fed twice daily, and provided with medical care and love. Their stories are fascinating and seeing them up-close as they happily enjoying each other’s company, within a semi-natural environment is fantastic.

The Target

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is managed by the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT). 

This association includes 7 partner organizations, including the Jane Goodall InstituteThe aim of the sanctuary is to create a safe environment for the affected chimpanzees, provide visitors with an educational experience and support local villages by providing employment. Visitors from abroad are welcome for day excursions, but also for several days of volunteer work.

Chimpanzees are man’s closest living relatives. However, human beings have been very cruel to them. Today, around 170,000 and 300,000 chimps are believed to exist in the wild, a decrease from over one million chimpanzees in the early 1900s! 

Habitat loss, hunting for bush-meat, and the exotic pet trade are amongst the greatest threats facing chimpanzees. Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is one small hope that we, as a dominant species, are capable of compassion and can think of the well-being of our fellow creatures beyond the narrow confines of our self-interest.

Activities On Ngamba Island

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary offers guests a special insight into the lives of the chimps. Several excursions are possible, depending on the length of your stay on the island. One thing is certain: nearly all of them revolve around chimpanzees. View the options below:

1. Chimpanzee Viewing Tour

This excursion can be booked for half a day or a full day.

A beautiful boat cruise across Lake Victoria will take you to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. After arrival, the staff at Ngamba will take you to the visitor center.

You will be given an introduction about the sanctuary, its history, the inhabitants of the center and their experiences in the wild. After the introduction, you’ll be given a tour of the grounds and you can watch the feeding of the chimpanzees from an overview platform.

Are you visiting Ngamba Island for a whole day? Then you’ll experience two feeding moments! You can also see beautiful Uganda birds and Monitor lizards on the island.

2. Caregiver For A Day Experience

The unique experience at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary costs around US$ 200.00 per person, per day. If offers you an opportunity to experience a day in the life of a Chimpanzee Caregiver by being Caregivers yourself!

As a chimp caregiver, you will get the exciting chance to not only view the chimps feeding, but to participate in preparing their food and feeding them. You can assist the staff at Ngamba Island with any activities happening at the sanctuary that day. These may include:

  • Medical checkups
  • Research and monitoring
  • Preparing the holding areas for the chimps
  • Administrative work, whereby you can help to type in the chimp stories
  • And any other activities that your skills and experience can be used for

This is a program aimed at helping our visitors understand and appreciate what it takes to look after our orphaned cousins on Ngamba Island as well as raising funds for their wellbeing.

The staff will work with you to show you just what is involved in taking care of these animals, how individual they are, and what makes them so special. As a caregiver, you get to meet and interact with all the chimps on the Island but DIRECT CONTACT with them is not guaranteed but possible under close supervision of a resident Caregiver.

3. Lake Victoria Boat Cruise

Are you staying overnight at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary? Then it is possible to take a sunset boat cruise on Lake Victoria in the evening. 

You will then see the fishermen ‘wake up’ and set their nets for the night. While you cruise over the equator, enjoy the setting sun and a refreshing drink. I will be a nice end to a special day.

4. Spend the Night on Ngamba Island

For those who want to explore Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary even more, an overnight stay at Ngamba Island Eco-lodge is the best choice. Not only will you experience several feeding moments, you will also be able to help prepare the nests for the chimpanzees and you will learn to look critically at the behavior of these Great Apes. 

All this of course will be under the supervision of one of the employees at Ngamba. You will also visit the local fishing villages around the island, go fishing and enjoy the evening around the crackling campfire. An unforgettable experience!

5. Volunteering at Ngamba Island

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary offers one and four-week volunteering programs where you can directly contribute to the conservation efforts of the chimpanzees.

While volunteering, you will have an opportunity to gain hands-on experience by preparing their chimpanzee food, feeding them, cleaning their sleeping area and taking part in enrichment activities and behavioral observations. 

You can stay in the sanctuary’s volunteer dormitories or in the Ngamba Eco Lodge.

Discover More Chimp Experiences In Uganda

Questions about Ngamba Island?

We will happily answer all your questions about the highlights, accommodations and possible travel routes to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary!