Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
After your self drive Safari in Ugandan National Park, on your last day in Entebbe , prepare to visit the ngamba Island which is the home for the chimpanzee watching in the magical Lake Victoria. Return your rental Car & Take a one day Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Watching.
Located 23km southeast of Entebbe in Lake Victoria, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, or ‘Chimp Island’, is home to over 40 orphaned or rescued chimpanzees that are unable to return to the wild. Humans are confined to one of the 40 hectares while the chimps wander freely through the rest, emerging from the forest twice a day for feeding at 11am and 2.30pm. This coincides with visitor arrival times to the island, with viewings of the chimps via a raised platform.
What is Ngamba Island famous for?
Ngamba provides arguably the best opportunity anywhere in Africa to observe chimpanzee behavior and interaction at close quarters. More than 95 per cent of the island is set aside as a forested sanctuary. Here, a community of 50 chimps roams and forages freely.
How to get to Ngamba Island?
Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary can be accessed by boat/ferry and air. The most popular and cheap way to get to the island is by using a ferry which sets of at waterfront beach – very close to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC). Tourists can also hire a speed boat from the Entebbe sailing visiting the Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary club or other boat companies in Entebbe. Travelers are advised to book a boat with the Ngamba island reservation office because it is a more established company. The reservation office will give discounts to those traveling in a group. The ferry takes more passengers but it is slower taking about one and a half hours to get to the island. A speed boat takes about 40 minutes to reach islands. There is also a more expensive option of booking a charter flight run by aero link from Kajjansi airstrip in Kampala directly to the island. Regardless of which method you use, you will need an entrance pass/ticket to get into the Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary. The pass can be got from the Ngamba Island reservation office in Entebbe or as soon as you reach the island. A local tour operator can help you get the ticket and arrange the entire trip including accommodation in Entebbe or at the island. You might want to read about the attractions in Entebbe town. Speedboat travel from the dock in Entebbe to Ngamba Island is approximately 45-50 minutes; travel by traditional motorized canoe takes approximately 90 minutes and by air it’s approximately 20 minutes from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Air strip. Independent operations also offer visits to the island.
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Tour Sanctuary
Visiting the Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary is one of the top things to do in Uganda – especially if you are cures or love primates. A tour of the island offers an opportunity to get close to the chimps and learn a lot about what is being done to protect the around the world. Visiting the Ngamba island sanctuary is also an indirect way of contributing towards the rescuing and rehabilitation of the primates. Part of the money collected from tourism also goes into paying allowances for the caregivers and those who go out for outreach purposes. Apart from observing the primates, there are also other activities one can engage in while at the island like nature walks in the forest, boat rides, and spot fishing, swimming and relaxing by the beach.
Visits to the Chimpanzee island are divided into three sessions – morning, afternoon and night sessions. The morning session starts from 9:00am and ends at 12:45pm while the afternoon session starts at 1:00pm and ends at 5:00pm. The night tour is the most expensive one and starts at around 7:00pm. It costs over $300 and includes interacting with the chimps, dinner and overnight in self-contained tented luxury tents s. Regardless of which session you choose, you are assured of some intimate time with the primates.
On a typical visit, tourists are received at the main offices and given a briefing about the Centre. Staff will share information about the how the sanctuary came to be, chimpanzees in general and how each Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary individual was introduced at the Centre. The chimpanzees are usually left to wander into the vast but fenced tropical forest and only come to take their extra meals or sleep. It is during meal time that tourists get to see them before they go back to the forest. Although they are left to roam free in the forest, they all come back to sleep in specially made houses. There are about 49 chimps at the sanctuary and the caregivers know each one by name. During feeding time, the caregivers will share details about each individual, their temperament and character. Scientific methods are used to control births so that their numbers remain at a manageable level. Interestingly, even with birth control measures in place, the sanctuary still welcomes babies from a few hardened individuals.
How do the chimps know if it is feeding time?
The caregivers alert the chimps whenever there is food to be given out. It’s interesting to go to the viewing platform to find no chimps and then suddenly all of them start emerging from the forest once they receive the sign for food. Chimps are very vocal primates and you should be able to hear them hooting deep in the forest even before you see them. Once they arrive at the feeding point, the caregivers throw food into their feeding areas. This is the perfect time to observe chimp behavior and mannerism. Watch as some literally beg for more or use sticks to get any pieces of fruit stuck on the fence. It’s important to note that the chimps are also fed with nutritious porridge either in the morning or before going to sleep.
The cost of touring Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary
The fee for visiting the Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary includes the cost of a speed boat or ferry to and from the islands. It also includes the entrance fee to the sanctuary and also the viewing fee. It’s important to note that the overall cost of visiting the Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary depends on the number of travelers. 1 traveler is charged about $326, 2 travelers $168 each, 3 travelers $118 each, 4 travelers or more $88 each. The fees apply to travelers going for the half day viewing experience – morning or evening session. For those interested in the night tour, you will have to pay an extra fee of $200 to stay in the self-contained luxury tented camp. The fees can be paid directly to the Ngamba reservation office. A tour operator can also help you make all the necessary bookings including the entrance fees.
Things to do in Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Caregiver for the day experience: This special experience is offered to visitors who wish to have more time with the chimpanzees including spending one night in the island. Those who choose to go for the Caregiver for the day experience will work closely with the resident caretakers by helping feed the primates, inspect their health and play with the youngest chimps. Because it is a longer experience, participants also get to explore the island further hence encountering other residents of the island like reptiles, butterflies, birds and the different species of trees in the tropical forest. Those who are booked for this activity get to stay in self-contained and luxurious tented camps.
A similar experience to the caregiver for the day program is where visitors choose to stay for more than a day with the purpose of learning more about the work of the sanctuary. Apart from taking part in feeding the primates, visitors who stay longer can also be involved in cleaning the primates, preparing food, preparing their night nests, giving out medication, recording chimp data and analyzing information. In-between the chimp tasks, visitors are also taken to visit the local fishing villages, sunset boat rides and camp fire retreats.
Chimpanzee sanctuary and wildlife conservation trust Induction and Integration Program for Chimpanzee infants: Whenever new orphaned chimps are brought to the sanctuary, they need to get used to the environment and to the other chimpanzees in the sanctuary. There is a lot of work to be done to rehabilitate the new chimps and also to ensure that there is a smooth transition to life in the island. Visitors can register for this specific program and work with staff at the sanctuary as they integrate the new chimps to their new surroundings. After being brought at the Centre new chimps are isolated from the old chimps to avoid bullying. Introduction to older residents is done gradually and in steps. If you register to help the newly introduced chimps, you will be required to feed them, play with them and take them for walks deep in the forest with the purpose of helping them get used to their new surroundings.
Half of Ngamba Island is covered by dense tropical rain forest with incredible biodiversity and perfect for nature walks. A nature walk around the forests of Ngamba can be very rewarding because it offers you an opportunity to spot birds, reptiles, butterflies and smaller primates.
Fishing: Ngamba Island is found in Lake Victoria which the largest fresh water body in Africa. The lake is excellent for fishing with the most popular catches being the giant Nile perch and the tasty tilapia. If you are staying in the island for more than a day, this is one activity you should register for. Fishing expeditions are organized for a full or half day.
Sunset cruise: This is one of the most popular activities while visiting Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary for more than a day. A sunset cruise is the perfect thing to do after a day working with the primates. You get to explore Lake Victoria and catch beautiful sights of the sunset. As with any boat cruise, there is food, drinks partying and photography.
Volunteering at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
If you have deep interest in primatology, you should consider going for the volunteer program at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee sanctuary. The volunteer program lasts for about four weeks and is divided into two phases in the first phase; volunteers are involved in feeding the chimpanzees with food, helping with medication, cleaning the chimpanzees/their nests and gathering scientific data.
The purpose of this first phase is to allow the volunteer to get to know the chimps in a very personal way. In the second phase of the program, volunteers are involved in outreach activities. They are requested to reach out to organizations within and outside the country to join the cause of conserving the chimpanzees.
This may require traveling to Kampala or Entebbe for meetings with organizations and companies that are interested in offering support. Volunteers at the sanctuary are provided with accommodation, meals and free internet. They are also given free time to engage in other activities like visiting the nearby villages, hangout places, Kampala city or even going for a safari.
Surprisingly there no age restrictions on the Island all ages are welcome
During your visit you will experience:
- chimpanzee viewing & feeding
- shopping at the island gift shop
- bird watching, experiencing other wildlife encounters,
- swimming on the equator,
- visiting a neighboring fishing village
- sunbathing and relaxing.
Adopt a Chimp program
Would you like to help care for orphaned and rescued chimpanzees by becoming a guardian?
CHIMPANZEE TRUST is a Non-Government Organization (NGO) with a mission “to sustainably conserve chimpanzees in their natural habitat and provide optimum captive care to those who cannot survive in the wild.”
Chimpanzee Trust manages Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a home to 50 orphaned and rescued chimpanzees in the heart of Lake Victoria. The welfare of the chimpanzees in our care is our primary objective, however providing the chimpanzees with all the food, shelter, medical care and love is only possible thanks to the generosity of trustees, donors, and other supporters.
The Guardianship program not only gives you the opportunity to help chimpanzees in need, but also recognizes your generosity.
What adoption packages are available?
You can choose from the following adoption packages;
Alpha Adoption $100 (This donation will go towards maintaining the chimp facilities for a month.)
This package includes;
-Your name displayed at the feeding platform
-Adopted chimp profile
Adopted Chimp quarterly updates
Individual Adoption $50 (This donation will go towards the care of 1 chimp for 5 days)
This package includes;
-Adopted Chimp profile
-Fact sheet about chimps
Students $20 (This donation will go towards feeding 1 chimp for 2 days)
This package includes;
-Adopted Chimp Profile
In partnership with our U.S. based non-profit partners, Friends of Chimps and Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, you can make tax-deductible donations through them.