A One-Day Tour to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary: An Extraordinary Experience with Our Closest Relatives
A Day at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Situated 22 km off the coast of Entebbe, the 100-acre Ngamba Island serves as a lush sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees. The Sanctuary was founded by Dr. Jane Goodall, a world-renowned ethologist and UN Peace Ambassador. She spearheaded its creation through her involvement with the Uganda Chapter of the Jane Goodall Institute. Open to the public since October 1999, the island is home to over 53 rescued chimpanzees (November 2023) thanks to the labor-intensive efforts of its devoted staff.
Your Journey Begins: From Entebbe to Ngamba Island
Your unforgettable one-day visit begins when we pick you up from your accommodations and transfer you to the meeting point at the UWEC, near Entebbe Airport. Joined by other guests, you’ll embark on a 45-minute to one-hour speedboat ride across Lake Victoria to reach Ngamba Island. This scenic journey offers beautiful views of the lake’s flora and fauna and is an experience.
Welcome to the Sanctuary: Introduction and Briefing
Upon arrival, you’ll receive a brief introduction to the sanctuary, including its history and mission. The passionate staff are highly knowledgeable and can readily identify each chimpanzee by name while sharing their stories.
Observing the Chimpanzees: Feeding Time and Behavioral Insights
You’ll arrive just in time for the first chow session at 11:00 a.m., offering close-up views from a specially designed raised walkway. Here, you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities and will gain insights into the chimpanzees’ behavior and upbringing. Another feeding time occurs at 3:00 p.m. daily, giving you additional chances to observe these fascinating creatures.
Optional Activities: Intimate Forest Walks
For an extra fee, you can also opt for a more intimate forest walk with the chimps, a truly indescribable experience. As you observe the chimps interact, hold them, and even see them being led to their feeding areas, you’ll notice the incredible bond they share with their handlers, who treat them with utmost love and respect.
Leisure Time: Poolside or Lakeshore Relaxation
In the afternoon, take some leisure time by the poolside or the lake shores before the next feeding session. During your time here, the chimps engage in remarkable behaviors like riding on each other’s backs, using sticks to fetch food, and signaling for food in unique ways.
Dining at Ngamba Island: Culinary Delights
The island’s dining options are excellent, and although pre-visit preparations like medical shots can be cumbersome, the experience is well worth the effort. All expenditures contribute to the welfare of the chimps, making it a truly rewarding experience.
Wrapping Up: End-of-Day Reflections and Transfer Back to Entebbe
As your day comes to an end, you’ll transfer back to Entebbe, having witnessed the distinct personalities among the chimp community. Although reintroducing these orphans to the wild isn’t feasible for various reasons, the sanctuary serves as a close second-best home for them.
When to Visit and How to Include it in Your Safari
This tour is available year-round and can easily be incorporated into a broader safari itinerary, either at the start or end of your journey. If you’re deciding between this and a traditional safari, Ngamba Island is a highly recommended, unparalleled experience.