This is an island in Uganda that decided to take care of the orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued from poachers who want to sell them or provide meat to themselves, wildlife traffickers, Zoos, and insurgencies from Congo by the Uganda Wildlife Authority since they can’t survive if re-introduced in the wild. Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that was opened in 1998 to cater to orphaned Chimpanzees.
Ngamba Island is the leading primate Sanctuary in the world, the Island started with 19 Chimpanzees but 52 Chimpanzees are there now and the sanctuary is close to Entebbe town in Lake Victoria cover and is about 100 acres of forest providing food and natural habitat to the chimpanzees. The Sanctuary is under the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance and it has attracted famous primate researchers and institutions who come to associate and share knowledge on the primates. Apart from the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda, there are other sanctuaries which include the Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in Congo, Senkwekwe Centre for the orphaned mountain Gorillas in Virunga national park.
The island is under the management of the chimpanzee Santucatuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust which is in partnership with six other wildlife conservation Organizations which are committed to the welfare and conservation of wildlife.
How to reach the island and the cost of visiting
Speed boats are the best means to reach the Island and these are got from the waterfront beach in Entebbe close to Uganda Wildlife Educational Center (Entebbe zoo) the boats are of different capacities whereby there is one that can accommodate 25 people, the smaller and fastest boats are all picked depending on the budget of the tourists and they are equipped with life jackets and fire extinguishers.
Tourists can do the boat bookings to Ngamba Island at the Ngamba Island Reservation offices and the tourists can also book through their tour company the prices are charged according to the number of people and the type of boat being used but for the groups, they are charged slightly lower price compared to a solo traveler.
A speed boat takes 50 minutes to reach the Island while the local motorized canoes take 90minutes.
There is the availability of charted flights to the island that can be got at Kajjansi Airstrip or Entebbe International Airport which land on the Island but the tourists have to show an entrance ticket at the gate from the Reservation office.
One of Ngamba Island’s objectives is to take care of the Orphaned primates but also to educate the public about primates and the importance of keeping their homes, paying a fee, and visiting the Island contributes to the well-being of the primates. Tourists who go to the Island have a chance to view how the Chimpanzees feed, have a boat cruise, fish, swim, and relaxation. Due to the limited space on the Island, Chimpanzees are stopped from reproducing by the use of modern birth control methods.
The Day tours are organized in two shifts whereby the first tour starts with the beautiful scenery, amazing bird sounds and the beautiful water flow from Lake Victoria the tour starts at 9 am and ends at 12:45 pm. the night trips include accommodation in high-quality self-contained tents and cottages. tourists at the Island will be received by the highly trained staff who will share the history and the activities of the Sanctuary then later proceed to the feeding spot where the Chimpanzees will be feeding on the raised platform.
The Chimpanzees are protected by an electric fence not to allow the Chimpanzees out from the Island due to the water surrounding the place during the visit, you get them at the feeding spot but the moment they are in the forests and hear the sound of the caregiver’s siren, you will hear their vocal cries, screams, and calls from the thick forest to the feeding area. the caregivers have a strong bond with each of them like family Siblings although the activities at the Island are different from the normal Chimpanzee trekking in the wild is different and there is something that makes it so unique.
The feeding area is large and consists of open savannah with the forest area where they spend most of their time and it is always amazing to watch them feed because they are mostly fed on fruits in large buckets whereby you find some stand up straight with their hands raised begging for food, while others clap to get the same attention from the caretakers.
Chimpanzees are so brilliant in the way that they use sticks to pull fruits closer to them and after lunch, they head back to the forest but come back to have the tasty evening porridge making them sleep in the enclosures in order not to miss.
The health of the Chimpanzees is always monitored by the caregivers and the veterinary doctor who has the best equipment for scanning and MRI tests.
Half tours cost $115 per person when using a speed boat while $80 per person when using a slower motorized boat, Children below 5 years don’t pay and the teenagers pay half of the price paid by the adults.
Tour companies, schools, and institutions always have a discount and those interested in being the caregiver of the day pay$200 this chance is given to those spending a night or two nights on the Island.
ACTIVITIES AT THE NGAMBA ISLAND
A caregiver of the day is the exciting experience that visitors who decide to spend a night or two understand the caregivers go through to make the Chimps happy and keep them in good health.
For one to be a caregiver of the day, one has to go through the medical tests and clearance and be involved in preparing the Chimp’s food, feeding them, clearing the sleeping chambers of the Chimpanzees, performing Medical tests on them, research and monitoring of the Chimpanzees individually. The visitors also help in raising funds for the sanctuary.
During the forest trail, visitors are able to view and learn about other animals and plants found in the forest, and during the walk, the visitors have direct contact with the juvenile Chimpanzees who are allowed to walk with the visitors in the forest since they young chimps behave like the humans since they are playful, love playing hide and seek and these juveniles like teasing and seeking for attention and on the walk, you will have an opportunity to view other animals like the monitor lizards, otters, fish eagles, spiders, and the fruit bats.
Is one of the wonderful activities that one can participate in on Lake Victoria and the main edible fish species got there are the Nile perch and Tilapia this activity can be arranged according to the programs of the visitor and during the experience, a tourist is able to view and explore Lake Victoria and the skippers who know the best places to catch the largest fish and the tourists are advised to come with their fishing equipment or get them in the sanctuary.
This is the activity mostly done by the Honeymooners on Lake Victoria and this activity is arranged when the sun is setting on the cruise, the tourists can be able to view the fishing spots, and fishermen casting their nets, with a glass of wine during the romantic evening.
The island also has volunteering programs that run for four weeks and they are divided into two parts the first part mostly involves the daily activity in the Sanctuary like cooking, feeding, cleaning the chambers, doing medical treatments, and learning about general wildlife conservation of the Chimpanzees.
The Volunteers at the Island are provided with internet, electricity, hot showers, toilets, and 3meals a day, and also they are given a free day to move around the surrounding communities, wildlife reserves, or leisure activities within Entebbe or Kampala.
ACCOMMODATION AT THE ISLAND
Visitors at Ngamba Island Sanctuary are expected to sleep in luxurious tents with all the facilities available and one of the lodges there is Ngamba-Eco-Lodge which offers luxury cottages and standard camping tents close to Lake Victoria during your stay there, you are able to hear the sounds of the Chimps from their enclosure and the lodge serves both local and continental dishes.