Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary

Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary

Ngamba Island is a chimpanzee sanctuary in Entebbe Uganda started by the famous Primatologist Jane Goodall and takes care of orphaned chimps.

Considering the past 30 years, the population of chimpanzees in Africa has enormously reduced. Like in any other African country, the chimpanzees and other animals are threatened by poaching and deforestation among other human activities. Because of increased human population in Africa and the whole world, people have now encroached on the natural habitats of chimpanzees and this has brought about conflicts between people and these cousins of man-the chimpanzees and other apes.

In tern, many primates started suffering and dying from different parts of Uganda which led to opening up of the non-profitable Ngamba Wildlife Sanctuary in 1998 and the main aim was to cater for those chimps that have been rescued from poachers, the orphaned chimps, those that have been rescued from wildlife traffickers, circuses and zoos from countries like Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, Russia and Uganda.

Poachers used to make good profits from selling these chimpanzees in the pet market and for meat. In the process of transferring them to the black markets for sell, most of these chimpanzees would die and others were left traumatized.

And all this left to the opening of the Ngamba Island to save the lives of the ‘cousins to man’.

The Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is one of the best places to visit in Uganda and among the leading primate sanctuaries in the world. Also known as the “Chimp Island”, this Sanctuary started small with just 19 chimpanzees and has since expanded to over 50 chimpanzees now.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is sited at an area of about 100 acres of the forest in surrounded by Lake Victoria and it is in this forest that these chimpanzees found peace with a natural environment and food.

Entebbe town is the closes place on the main land and visitors to the Ngamba wildlife Sanctuary base from Entebbe International airport, Entebbe town and Kampala Capital City to conduct excursions or even more day trips to the Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is managed by the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife conservation trust (CSWCT) in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, Uganda Wildlife Society, and International Fund for Animal Welfare, Born Free Foundation, Jane Goodall Institute etc.

gamba island chimps
gamba island chimpanzee sanctuary in Uganda

Things to do at Ngamba Island

The main objective of the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is to take care of the chimp orphans but there are also other important objectives like the need to protect the forest homes of the primates and also the importance of primates themselves. Once you visit this chimpanzee sanctuary, you have already made a contribution to the wellbeing of these chimpanzees because you will have to pay an entrance fee. Visitors to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary are rewarded with the opportunity to see and feed the chimps.

Visitors on the Uganda safari to Ngamba Island can also take part in other activities aside from feeding the chimpanzees such as swimming, relaxation/sunbathing, boat cruising and fishing.  Because of a very limited space in the island, currently the reproduction of chimpanzees is monitored and controlled by using the modern birth control methods which you will learn about when you visit Ngamba Island Sanctuary on your Uganda safari.

Visitors can join half day shifts or overnight shifts to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Overnight shifts include accommodation in Ngamba Island in and meals in high quality self-contained cottages and tents. Whereas half day trips are organised in two shifts that is the morning and afternoon shift. The morning shift begins at 9am from the pier and ends at 12:45. The second shift end at 5pm.

You would not want to miss out the thrilling songs of birds, the remarkable scenery and the amazing waters of Lake Victoria which the visitors to Ngamba Island experience.

The visit to the chimpanzees in the Sanctuary begins with the briefing and introduction and it is at this point where visitors get to know about the history and why they chose Ngamba Island to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda. Then you will be led to a raised platform to sport the chimpanzees while they are feeding.

Chimpanzees are under protection using an electric fence so, be sure of your safety if you are ready to follow the guidance of the guides on ground. If you go there to early, you will hear the vocal cries of these chimpanzees getting out of their nests when care giver makes a siren which they are used to and they will start coming out of the thick forests to the feeding area. Here you have clear opportunities to closely watch and observe the interactions of the chimpanzees, their unique personalities and group dynamics from a raised platform.

The way the caregivers bond with each of these chimpanzees is like a brother to a sister bond. It is true the experience you obtain from visiting the chimpanzees in the sanctuary is different from that when you find them in the wild but there are some unique things you will see with chimpanzees in the sanctuary which you may never see in the wild.

Attractions at Ngamba Island

Ngamba Island Attractions

Participating in Integration for the infant Chimps

Every newly rescued chimpanzee has to undergo integration with those already in the island and this is one of the most important things for the better stay of the newly rescued chimps in the chimpanzee community in Ngamba Island, If there is no integration, the older chimps in the island may take long to accept the new-born chimp or the rescued chimp in to this island. The amount of time taken for a newly introduced chimp to integrate with the already existing chimps depends on the age, sex and the amount of trauma experienced by the rescued chimp.

The newly rescued chimp is first taught how to live in the indoor facility, and then it is introduced to a smaller group of individuals in the outside enclosure before it is finally introduced in the forest to meet the rest of the majority chimpanzees.

If the newly rescued chimp is not first put in an enclosure, it may first be bullied by the older chimpanzees which may cause more traumas.

The rescued chimp is then introduced to these veteran chimps one by one to make sure the integration is successful.

Long stay visitor program

This programme is designed for visitors who are willing to stay at the island for long. The most rewarding thing about the long stay visitor programme is that visitors have the opportunity to join the well-trained and experienced team which takes care of the chimps on a daily basis.

Visitors on a long stay programme can participate in cooking food for the chips, helping in the island shop, cleaning chimp cages, data collection, entry and analysis and helping in construction projects at the Ngamba Island chimpanzee Sanctuary among others.

For the tourist visitors on a long stay visitor programme in Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, you will have an opportunity to hold the hand of a rescued chimp and move it around the forest while you teach this infant chimp about how to live comfortably in the area as you also explore the forest.

Caregiver for the day experience

This experience is only available for visitors who spend at least one night on the Island.

The caregiver experience gives the visitors an opportunity to know how the caregivers make the chimps happy and healthy and what they go through.

To participate in this activity, you have to be ready to undergo extensive medical tests and clearance.

Visitors on the caregiver for the day experience get involved in all daily activities which include; cleaning the chimp sleeping chambers, preparing food and feeding the chimps and monitoring of individual chimps among others.

Forest Trail/Walk

There are forest trails in Ngamba Island and these are designed for tourist visitors to learn about the various species of plants and animals found in Ngamba Island. Visitors on the forest walk have the opportunity for direct contact with the young chimpanzees who normally like walking with visitors in the forest. The juvenile chimps behave just like human children. They love teasing, ricking and they seek attention. Aside from chimpanzees, visitors also have the opportunity to see fruit bats, fish eagles, Otters and monitor lizards.


Ngamba Island is a very ideal destination for fishing; it can be done on a half day or full day fishing while you lookout for Big Nile perch and Tilapia fish.

Expect a magical experience as you explore Lake Victoria. The skippers are well experienced and know the best spots to catch large fish.

How to get there

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is among the top tourist attractions in Uganda and Entebbe town in particular. One needs to take a speed boat from the shores of Lake Victoria in Entebbe town and most of the boats depart from the waterfront beach which is close to the Uganda Wildlife education centre (UWEC) / Entebbe Zoo. There are different boats with different sizes; it all depends on the number of visitors and the budget you have. There are smaller and faster boats that are quite expensive compared to the larger ferries available. All the boats are well equipped with fire extinguishers and life jackets.

Speed boats take about 1 hour while the motorized canoes take about one and a half hours to reach Ngamba Island.
You can also arrange a helicopter flight directly to the island and this is the only means available for visitors with water phobia.

It is important that you consult us as your tour operators to help you in making all the reservations for your Uganda safari to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Where to stay at Ngamba Island
Boat ot Ngamba Island

Where to stay

There are magnificent and luxurious tents and cottages built on the shores of Lake Victoria with amazing scenery. Spending a night or two on this island in a luxurious tent enjoying the soothing sounds of chimpanzees and water waves is such an incredible experience you should not miss on your Uganda tour.  

Ngamba Eco-lodge features both luxurious and standard camping tents nestled on the shores of Lake Victoria with outstanding scenery and the good songs of waves. In the night, you will listen to the songs of chimpanzees hooting from their enclosures. Ngamba Eco-Lodge has self-contained rooms with hot water showers, electricity and private balconies.

Open chat
Let's chat!
Arlanda Travel Chat
If you need quick help, we can chat here!