Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary Tour

To reach Ngamba Island, one has to get a speed boat which park and speed of from waterfront beach in Entebbe near Uganda wildlife education center

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary Tour

Are you looking for Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Ngamba Island Tour?  Uganda is one of the countries where you can get to find chimpanzees in Africa as well as Rwanda and DR Congo. Chimpanzee population in Uganda is reducing because of poaching and human interference where humans cut down trees to create space for settlement. As more of their natural habitats is being reduced, Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary was opened in 1998 as a nonprofit project to take care of orphaned chimpanzees that have lost their mothers or that have been rescued from poachers, wild traffickers and zoos. Most of the chimpanzees are being rescued from poachers that always sell them in pet markets or for meat. When poachers are taking these chimpanzees for meat or sell in markets, they keep them in bad conditions living most of them traumatized.

Also known as Chimp Island, Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary is one of the leading sanctuaries for primates in the world. It’s one of the good places to visit in Uganda. Ngamba sanctuary began with 19 chimpanzees but it now has 50 gorillas surrounded by the peaceful waters of Lake Victoria close to Entebbe town. The island seats on an area of 100 acres of forest which as act homes and provide food for these chimpanzees. The sanctuary is a member of Pan African sanctuary alliance and it attracts researchers, institutions and staff from other sanctuaries around the world who come to share knowledge. There are other sanctuaries such as Jack chimpanzee sanctuary in DR Congo, Senkwekwe center for orphaned mountain gorillas in Virunga Park and Tchimpounga chimpanzee rehabilitation center in Congo.

Ngamba sanctuary is managed by the chimpanzee sanctuary and wildlife conservation trust. The wildlife conservation trust works hand in hand with other 6 wildlife conservation organizations which are committed to welfare and conservation of wildlife. These organizations include Uganda wildlife society, Jane goodall institute, Uganda wildlife education center, New South Wales zoological park, environmental conservation, international fund for animal welfare and born free foundation.

How to reach Ngamba Island

Ngamba Island is one of the most visited places in Entebbe. To reach Ngamba Island, one has to get a speed boat which park and speed of from waterfront beach in Entebbe near Uganda wildlife education center formally known as the zoo. The boats are of different sizes and some can take up to 30 people. Depending on some one’s money, one can take a smaller boat or use a larger ferry. The boats have life jackets with fire extinguishers. In order to book any boat you must go to Ngamba island reservations office and if you find difficulties in booking the boat you can use any trusted tour operator to book on your behalf. Money paid depends on the number of people, type and size of the boat. A speeding boat takes you about 50 minutes to reach Ngamba Island while a local motorized canoe takes you about 90 minutes. One can also book a direct flight from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airport direct to Ngamba Island. Entering the island you will need to present your ticket from Ngamba island reservations office.

Visiting Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary

One of the goals of Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary is to educate the public about chimpanzees and the benefit of protecting their forest homes. When you visit the island and pay a few you have contributed to the well-being of these primates. The visitors to the sanctuary have an opportunity of seeing the chimpanzees, how they feed and play. One can also take part in activities such as fishing, boat cruise, swimming and sunbathing. The chimpanzees in Ngamba highlands are well taken of because the space is small and they use modern control methods to prevent them from giving birth. The tours here are organized in two shifts and the forest one starts at 9am while the other afternoon until 5am. There are also overnight trips at a fee of USD 600 which include accommodation in self-contained tents and cottages. Visiting Ngamba island exposes you the beautiful scenery, colorful birds and the amazing waters of lake Victoria.

The visitors are received by well trained staff who share with you information about the island and its history, after briefing the tourists are allowed to go and spot chimpanzees feed and play from a raised platform. The section for chimpanzees is protected with an electric fence. When you arrive to the place too early, you might not find them in the area but once they hear their caregivers you will start to hear them cry, scream as they come from thick forest to feed. While on a raised platform, you will be able to see chimpanzees interact, play and feed. The caregivers have with each of the chimpanzees like they would be with their families. The experience watching chimpanzees is not the same of chimpanzee trekking but you will be able to observe certain things that are not possible in the wild.

The serving area is very big and consists of an area of grassland and a large forest where chimpanzees spend most of the time during day. The chimpanzees eat fruits most of the times served in big buckets. It’s very amazing watching the chimpanzees feed, some can stand upright with their hands raised as they beg for more food from caregivers. Chimpanzees are wise they will get sticks and peel fruits and eat. After lunch the chimpanzees go back to the forest and they come back in the evening to sleep while some chimpanzees sleep in the night sometimes but the porridge served to them in the evening forces them to come back in their nesting places. The health of chimpanzees is monitored by the veterinary officers

The cost of visiting Ngamba Island

Half day tour to Ngamba Island with a speeding boat goes for USD 115 per person per day and the same tour using a local motorized boat costs USD 80 per person. Children below 5 years of age pay nothing but the teenagers pay half the price of adults. If you want to act as a care giver for the day experience, you must pay USD 200 and this is only available to those that spend a night or two at the island.

Main activities in Ngamba Island

Caregiver for day experience:

This opportunity is given to tourists that spend a night or town in the island and it costs USD 200. This activity is put in place to give tourists chances to know what caregivers go through to make chimpanzees happy and stay in good health. For one to qualify for this they must go through extensive medical tests and clearances. Tourists get involved in preparing foods, feeding them, cleaning chimpanzee sleeping chambers you will get involved in overall monitoring of individual chimpanzees and medical check ups

Long stay visitor program:

This program is designed for those that are planning to stay in the island for some time. When you’re in this program, you engage in activities such as cleaning chimp cages, cooking chimp food, helping in construction projects at the island, treating the chimpanzees, data collection, entry and analysis.

Taking part in integration program for chimpanzee infants:

One of the best things a newly rescued chimpanzee has to undergo is integration with the group already in the camp. The old members in the island may take a while to accept a new infant introduced to the island.  The amount of time a rescued chimpanzee takes to get used in the community depends on sex, age and trauma experienced. The new chimpanzee has to stay indoor facility first, live with smaller groups in the outside before joining the whole group while in the forest. The new chimpanzees live in separate enclosures for some time to protect them from being bullied the older members of the group. The visitors that engage in chimpanzee integration take the young chimpanzees in the forest for a walk while holding their hands and if they tired they carry them on their backs.

Forest walk:

Forest walk at Ngamba Island helps tourists to learn about animals and plants that are found on the island. It’s also a great opportunity to move around with juvenile chimpanzees that are trained to move around the forest with people. These chimpanzees behave like people, you can carry them on your back, play hide and seek. Just like human beings, chimpanzee juveniles like teasing and seeking attention. Apart from chimpanzees, Ngamba Island is a home of monitor lizards, fish eagles, otters, spiders and bats.


Fishing at Ngamba Island is an amazing experience. The main fish species here include Nile perch and tilapia. Fishing can be done for half a day or full day but the experience remains the same as you explore Lake Victoria.

Sunset cruises:

These are done in the evening hours when the sun sets.

Volunteer program-volunteering at Ngamba islands:

The sanctuary has a volunteering program that targets primate lovers and those that would love to learn more about chimpanzees. Volunteer program is done for four weeks and is divided into two parts. In the first part of the program gets participants get involved in daily activities in the chimpanzee sanctuary such as preparing food, feeding the chimpanzees, data collection, cleaning chimpanzee homes, medical treatments and knowing more about general wildlife conservation. At the end of this program you will be having knowledge about these chimpanzees and the second part of volunteering involves working with field projects which help in raising awareness about the number of chimpanzees, forest and the general wildlife conservation. This part of volunteering program helps you to strengthen partnership with local institutions and individuals who are a key in the area of wildlife conservation.

Accommodation in Ngamba islands

Ngamba eco- lodge:

This lodge offers luxury cottages and camping tents close to the waters of the lake. While at Ngamba eco lodge you will hear the hooting of chimpanzees from their enclosure and sounds of birds. The lodge gives you beautiful views and sounds of the lake. The lodge has self-contained rooms with hot showers, private balcony and electricity

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