NGAMBA ISLAND CHIMPANZEE SANCTUARY UGANDA | NGAMBA ISLAND CHIMPS
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda is located in Lake Victoria (Africa’s largest Lake), near Entebbe City and close to the equator. Ngamba Island is one of the best places to see chimps up-close on your Uganda safaris.
Chimpanzees are man’s (humans) closest cousins and we share 98.7% of our genes with them. However, humans have been very cruel to them. Between 170,000 and 300,000 chimpanzees are thought to be living in the wild, a decrease from about 1000,000 chimps in the early 1900s! Habitat loss, hunting for bushmeat, and the exotic pet trade are amongst the greatest threats facing chimps. Ngamba 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.
The sanctuary has become a leading organization in the areas of focused environmental conservation. It provides excellent care for 52 orphaned chimpanzees, rescued from the illegal pet and bushmeat trade, who are now free to roam the island and play in its tangled vines and towering trees. Day trips to see the residents are superb. You can even overnight at the island for more engaging activities with the chimps. It is a fabulous add-on to your Uganda tours – at the beginning or end of your Uganda safari tour.
Size Of Ngamba Island
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary consists of approximately 100 acres, of which 95 acres are forested and separated from the human camp by an electric fence. Chimps wander freely through the forest, emerging twice a day for feeding at 11 am and 2.30 pm. This coincides with visitor arrival times to the island, with viewings of the chimps via a raised platform. While chimpanzee viewing here can’t compare to the experience of chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, it still makes for a worthwhile safari in Uganda trip to observe these Great Apes’ human-like behaviors.
Where Is Ngamba? – Location Of Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Ngamba is located about 23 kilometers southeast of Entebbe in Lake Victoria. The island is part of the Koome group of islands, which also includes Kiimi, Nsazi, Koome, Bulago, and Damba Islands. Its northern part is generally flat, rising gently to an altitude of about 3800 feet above sea level to the south. It’s a 50-/90-minute speedboat or motorized canoe ride from Entebbe to get here.
History Of Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established in 1998 as a project of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife trust. The founding trustees include:
- The Jane Goodall Institute
- Uganda Wildlife Authority
- Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
- Born Free Foundation
- International Fund for Animal Welfare
- Tarongo Conservation Society Australia
- Eco Trust
Attractions To See On Your Ngamba Island Tour
Apart from the orphaned Chimpanzees, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary has several other amazing things to see in Uganda (Uganda safari attractions). Here are the top things to see at Ngamba Island on your safaris in Uganda:
- Birds and other wildlife
- Lake Victoria
- Uganda Equator
Chimpanzees Of Ngamba Island
As of March 2022, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is home to 52 chimpanzees. These chimps have been rescued from bush meat traders, chimps caught in snares of poachers, from pet traders & owners, and wildlife traffickers intercepted in Uganda and from different parts of the world. There is a chimp that was got from as far as Russia.
One of the core values practiced at the Sanctuary is treating each Chimpanzee as an ‘individual’. Each Chimpanzee is a different individual with his/her characteristics, personality, and likes/dislikes – just like humans. The Sanctuary has made brief profiles of each chimp inhabitant mentioning their distinct personalities and history.
The chimps at Ngamba spend the day in the forest and the evening comes back to a nice holding facility to spend the night. Chimps in the wild make new nests every night to sleep and it would be ideal for the chimps at the island, however, the forest is too small for such a population that they would finish up the forest in no time from breaking nesting branches. The forest does not provide enough nourishment for the chimps so they are supplemented with fruits 2 times a day.
Birds & Other Wildlife At Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Despite its small size, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary has a variety of other wildlife species. The sanctuary is home to over 150 species of Uganda birds including African fish eagles, African paradise-flycatchers, Great blue turacos, Black-and-white casqued hornbills, and various other colorful species. Often there are also sightings of the large Nile Monitor lizards, fruits bats, marsh mongoose, and the endearing spotted-necked otter.
Lake Victoria – Africa’s Largest Lake
With a surface area of just under 70,000 km², Lake Victoria is not only Africa’s largest lake but ranks as the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. Yet despite its huge size, the shimmering lake is quite shallow – only 80 meters at its deepest.
Lake Victoria is also the primary source of the Nile, the world’s longest river. It flows out from the northern shore at nearby Jinja city where thrilling adventure activities in Uganda such as white-water rafting, bungee jumping, kayaking, and others can be enjoyed.
What’s more, the lake’s equator-straddling location means that the short boat trip from Entebbe to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary crosses from the northern hemisphere to the southern. Once at the island, overnight visitors can go on a tranquil sunset cruise or a more energetic angling excursion trying to hook a giant Nile perch, one of the world’s freshwater fish.
Best Activities To Do At Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
At Ngamba Island, not only do you experience what it’s like to see chimpanzees up close but also there is a variety of activities designed to create a rich and memorable visit. These activities are also essential in helping the sanctuary fund the ongoing costs of feeding, housing, and caring for the 52 resident chimpanzees.
Below are the best activities to do on your Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary tour in Uganda:
- Chimpanzee Viewing & Feeding
- Caregiver Of A Day Experience
- Overnight At Ngamba Island
- One-Week Volunteer Program
- Four-Week Volunteer Program
- Crossing The Uganda Equator
- Relaxation & Sunset Boat cruises
- Fishing Cruises
- Visiting the nearby fishing villages
- Bird watching
Chimpanzee Viewing & Feeding At Ngamba Island
Chimpanzee viewing at Ngamba Island cannot be compared to the experience of seeing wild Chimps on chimpanzee trekking safaris in Uganda at Kibale Forest National Park, Budongo Forest, Kalinzu Forest, and Queen Elizabeth National Park or Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda.
However, viewing chimps at Ngamba offers more personal and closer experiences. It is a unique opportunity to learn a lot about these very interesting primates! It is possible to notice how intelligent chimps are. You can even be part of the feeding team, an opportunity for you to feed the chimpanzees from the platform. On top of being able to feed your favorite chimp, you watch as the chimps excitedly try and gain your attention to receive food.
There are 2 trips to Ngamba Island in a day and the 2 trips target 2 of the supplementary feeding times of the chimpanzees when they are in the forest. The 2 feeding times are; morning time at 11 am and afternoon time at 2.30 am. During the feeding time, the chimps come out of the forest interior to a clearing near the fence where fruits are thrown to them over the fence. Visitors watch them for 1 hour from a raised platform behind the fence.
You can also spend a night at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary for a chance to see all the 2 supplementary feeding times & other activities.
Caregiver Of A Day Experience At Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
If you want to be more than just a tourist and get involved in the activities at Ngamba Island, the caregiver for a day experience gives you this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of getting even closer to chimps.
It is a unique program where you get the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a Chimpanzee Caregiver by being a Caregiver yourself!
As a chimp caregiver, you get the exciting opportunity to not only view the chimps feeding but to participate in preparing their food and feeding them. You can assist the staff with any activities happening at the sanctuary that day such as medical checkups, research and monitoring, preparing the holding areas for the chimps, and 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 visitors understand and appreciate what it takes to look after the orphaned chimps 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.
One-Week Volunteer Program At Ngamba Island
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary offers one-week volunteering programs where you can directly contribute to the conservation efforts of the chimps.
You also gain first-hand experience with chimpanzee behavior, as you immerse yourself in the activities required to care for the 52 orphaned chimps. You learn in-depth about the threats and work to conserve their wild relatives.
By participating in this program on your Ngamba Island tour, you join a dedicated team devoted to the ongoing health and welfare of Ngamba Island’s resident wildlife and in turn, help the sanctuary observe its mission to educate the public about the importance of chimpanzees…our closest living relatives.
One Week Volunteer Activities At Ngamba Island Include:-
- Food Preparation
- Chimpanzee Feeding
- Assisting in Medical Procedures (only if necessary during your one week stay)
- Cleaning Chimp Nighttime Holding Facility
- Carrying out Enrichment Exercises for Chimps
- Collecting Behavioral Data & Typing up Records (chimp diaries)
- Support Maintenance of Island Facilities
- Enjoying Island Wildlife
Four-Week Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary Volunteer Program
In addition to the activities included in the 1-week program, on the 4-week program, you also gain experience with chimps in their natural habitat and witness the very real issues threatening their survival.
The thrill of this fully immersive program is an experience that lasts a lifetime! During your time volunteering, you will participate in a variety of tasks, all vital to the continuation and sustainability of the Chimpanzee Trust and Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Crossing The Uganda Equator OnYour Way To Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
You’ll cross the equator on the way to Ngamba Island.
The equator line which divides the world into two halves is a phenomenon that interests many tourists on Uganda safari tours who will want to know where it crosses on Lake Victoria. There is no physical signage or anything on the lake indicating where the equator is but if GPS has it will read 0 degrees.
If you don’t have the boat has GPS and the boat captain will stop and inform you when you are at the equator. Here, you can take pictures and/or swimming.
Relaxation/Sunset Boat cruises, Ngamba Island
In addition to the longer chimpanzee experience, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is also one of the best getaways to go and relax on Lake Victoria on your safari holiday in Uganda, enjoy the tranquility at the island and sleep to the sounds of the chimps. While staying at the island, you can enjoy:-
- Lovely views of the surrounding islands
- Spectacular sunrises and sunset over Lake Victoria
- A boat cruise on the lake and check out the fringes of the island
- Bird watching
- Fishing for the Nile Perch
- Watching the local fishermen going about fishing the traditional way, etc.
Where To Stay At Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary?
Ngamba Eco-Lodge: The lodge has 4 permanent luxury cottages, nicely furnished and 15 standard camping tents, spaced for privacy and well situated close to the waters of Lake Victoria.
The cottages are spacious and self-contained with a lavatory. Each cottage has a patio where you can sit and unwind as you enjoy the beautiful views and sounds of Africa’s largest lake. As you are about to doze off at night, you can hear the hooting of the chimps from their enclosure. Staff at the hotel are super friendly and professional having received training from the Disney resorts in the US (Florida). The dishes served are both local and continental.
How Do I Get To Ngamba Island?
The easiest access to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Lake Victoria is from the lakeshore in Entebbe. There are different types of boats catering to various groups and budgets. It is 23km from the docking station at the Water Front Club (opposite the Uganda Wildlife Education Center) to the island.
Travel by a speedboat takes 45 to 50 minutes depending on the weather and travel by traditional motorized canoe takes approximately 90 minutes. The cruise is lovely as you experience Africa’s biggest lake, enjoy lovely sites across the lake, watch birds along the way with lots of cormorants, swamphens, terns, pelicans, etc…, see the local fishermen looking for the prized Nile Perch.
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary Prices
- 1 Person USD 326
- 2 Persons USD 168 each
- 3 Persons USD 118 each
- 4 people/more USD 88 each
By Motorized Canoe
- 6 People USD 84 per person
- 7 People USD 78 per person
- 8/more People USD 73 per person
Note: All rates include a round trip boat ride, entrance, and viewing fees. Always contact us to find out the day’s bookings.
Overnight Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary Tour
By Speed Boat
- 1 Person USD 760
- 2 Persons USD 593 each
- 3 Persons USD 530 each
- 4 people USD 495 each
- 5 people/more USD 472 each
- 4 Weeks – USD 6240 per person in a group
- 1 Week – USD 2035 per person in a group
Visit Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and help the sanctuary care for resident orphaned chimpanzees and defend those living in their natural habitat. Chimps need you now more than ever. You can create a better tomorrow for chimps and their habitats in Uganda. Your support of Ngamba Island and global conservation work will make a world of difference. Tourism is the main source of income to sustain the Sanctuary and the well-being of the Chimps.
If you would like to include Ngamba Island in your Uganda safari tour, please contact us!
Sample Uganda Safari Packages.
- 1 Day Uganda Safari to Lake Mburo National Park
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