Life in the wild | My Day On Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust – By Ronnie Mayanja

Posted January 21, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Tourism and Conservation ~ 18,579 views



By Ronnie Mayanja — As part of my New Year’s resolution I purposed to set up a new group tour company based in North America after realizing the thirst and interest Americans have for an African safari experience. But that meant I had to do my homework by checking out some of the wildlife facilities Uganda had to offer. For someone who has lived in the US continuously for the past 14 years every time I travel home I am in owe of what Uganda has to offer especially, when it comes to nature.


And so on Sunday afternoon January 17th I set out to one of the islands nestled away in Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water body in the world. The island sits about 27km by speed boat from Entebbe and can also be accessed from other landing sites on the lake. However having put off the trip for so long and following my fruitful meetings with Mr. Godfrey Lule, a Tourism consultant and Ms. Lilly Ajarova, the Executive Director of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and a UTB Board member, I decided to venture and experience first hand why Ngamba Islands was always a talked about destination among those who love to promote Uganda’s wildlife and tourism. I was also pleasantly surprised to bump into an old friend, fashion designer – Santa Anzo, who had also made a separate journey to this amazing paradise to experience the wildlife on the island.


For those who might not know — Ngamba Island is a project of the Chimpanzees Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT), established in 1997 and it provides a home for over 48 orphaned chimpanzees to live out their lives, since a return to their natural habitat is not possible, while educating visitors and local communities about their remarkable species and the importance of conserving their fragile forest habitat.


Ngamba Island consists of approximately 100 acres, 95 of which are forested and separated from the visitors area by an electric fence where the chimpanzees roam throughout the day. The Semi-tropical forest is also home to a number of bird species and other living creatures like the large monitor lizards that form part of the interesting surround sounds in the dead of night. Only about 5 acres is reserved for use by the Sanctuary staff and the visitors.


The Ngamba lodge also offers great accommodation facilities in form of self contained high end tents fitted with bathrooms, portable toilets and electric bulbs. Their well trained chefs serve complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner at the lodge. The island also has a bar that serves an assortment of drinks and spirits. With a memorable view and comfortable beds this island ranks among the best places to visit in Uganda.


After spending two nights on the island and getting educated about these Chimpanzees that are now an endangered species and our closest relatives given their DNA Composition of 98.7 percent in common with humans, I was in owe of the wonders of God’s creation. The intellect and some of the survival instincts in many of the chimps I saw will blow any onlooker away.


One aspect I found interesting was how these Chimps kept time at their assembly point on the dot at and 2:30pm they were always ready for their feeding like clockwork. They also follow a set routine where they come to their sleeping area after drinking their porridge and eating a fruit snack. Just like humans, bullies do exist in the Chimp community, stealing from weakest!


Although part of the costs go toward the welfare of the Chimps this experience will change you forever if you have never been around such intelligent apes. Because Uganda has been so lucky and blessed among the very few countries that host the remaining population of these mammals, chimp trekking should be added to our National Parks “must-sees”, along with gorillas . It was equally amazing to learn from the The Sanctuary veterinarian that some medication administered at the clinic consists of medicines that are used for humans. . The chimpanzee needs to be protected from those communities that poach it for their meat and that some medication administered at the clinic consists of medicines that are used for humans.studied for how close it is to humans biologically, much closer than other mammals.


Some of the activities you will enjoy while on the island include Care giving — a unique program where visitors get the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a Chimpanzee Caregiver by being Caregivers themselves! As a chimp caregiver, you will get the exciting opportunity to not only view the chimps feeding, but to participate in preparing their food and feeding them of-course at a fee!


On my trip I also had a chance to visit islands surrounding Ngamba like Koome island where the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Project has been able to give back to the community on the island by building schools and supporting other community based initiatives. The other aspect of my visit included fishing, bird watching, camp fires and sight seeing of this untouched vegetation that perhaps dates back centuries!


Given the very limited accommodation space you can either opt for half day or full day trips. However to get the most out of your visit an overnight stay will provide a more enhanced personalized experience at a fee but it would be worth every penny!


And so as world oil prices continue to decline and given our tourism potential as a nation, Uganda can borrow from Kenya by cutting tax on the sector in order to earn big by exporting Tourism and showing the world why we have been described as a nation — gifted by nature. All it takes is a change in mindset and the recruitment of the right staff like those on Ngamba and team leaders like Lilly Ajavaro,  Executive Director of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary.  Only then shall Uganda start reaping big from tourism.


A special thank-you to the Ngamba team for their great hospitality. For bookings and additional information please visit the Ngamba Island Chimpazee Wildlife and Conservation Trust official website — All photos appear courtesy of Ronnie Mayanja and this article maybe reproduced with attribution to the source.

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


    Martin Roy Lukwago

    The best of all activities to me, was the 1hr fantastic boat ride from Entebbe to Ngamba Island. That made me appreciate the water business opportunities we have in Uganda, to support tourism activities and the animal protection activities like those at the Chimpanzee sanctuary.

    Good coverage Ronnie. The world needs to know more of stuff like this, in the Pearl of Africa.


    Cool, thanks for sharing your trip sounds very appealing. Can you please do similar reviews of other tourist spots every so often pretty please! Like.

    Elvis Muhaabwa

    Dear Ronnie,
    Thank you for the article, I feel, however, that you could have given us more information about the costs to include transportation, how many rooms available and how much per night, etc
    Uganda is indeed has beautiful scenery, last time when we were in Uganda we spent two night at Mweya Lodge.
    Keep it up.

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