A Chimps tea party

1043 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2022

Product name

Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Product country


Product city


Travelled with


Reasons for trip


Whilst staying in Uganda’s capital, Entebbe, we visited the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary whose website promised ‘an extraordinary experience you will never forget’.

The only way of getting to the island is by 12-seater boat across Lake Victoria, organised by the sanctuary. The journey time was said to be 45-minutes as the lake was flat, but it took over an hour as the waves got higher nearer the island.

Temperature checks were taken on arrival as colds or flu can be transmitted to the chimps, and masks were required at the chimp feeding area.

Winnie, a volunteer, greeted us and led us past a tree full of bright yellow weaver birds and their distinctive hanging nests. At the small gift shop we collected tea or coffee, before gathering in a thatched hut for her introduction.

The Sanctuary, established in 1998, was originally inhabited by a community who were relocated to a neighbouring island, and so each Sunday, the community are offered free visits where they educate the children not just about the chimps, but about waste management. The gift shops sells crafts made by the ladies on a commission basis, again to maintain community relationships. The site covers 100 acres and 95% is devoted to the chimps (this size of forest would normally only support 5 to 6 chimps which is why they need supplementary feeding).

There are currently 52 chimps which includes three babies, rescued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The last chimps, four from Sudan, were introduced around 10 years ago which is a sign that their education programme is being successful.

Although the female chimps are given a hormone implant when they mature, unplanned pregnancies happen. The implant may not work or in one case, the chimp scratched it out and so her baby was named Surprise.

All the chimps have names related to either their guardian, or how and who found them. Their life span is around 50 to 60 years, longer than those in the wild because of their pampered lifestyle.

Briefing over, it was time to walk to the feeding area. The chimps are fed four times a day: breakfast at 6am is posho, a maize flour porridge, followed by a varied selection of fruit and vegetables at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Their final feed is in the holding pen at 6pm, as this encourages them to come in to sleep in high hammocks lined with straw.

A raised metal platform overlooked a fenced grassy area where the chimps were already waiting. Up a short flight of steps was an elevated area where we could photograph without the wires in the way. They were an absolute delight to watch, particularly as some had developed ways of attracting attention which included beating their chest, putting up their hand, blowing raspberries or making a pant noise.

Food finished, the chimps wandered back to the forest giving us time to read more about the personal profiles. Each had a photo and listed the year of birth where known, sex, where they were rescued from (mainly Uganda and the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo) and the date, followed by their distinguishing features, and characteristics.

We were encouraged to become either a guardian or friend of the chimpanzees whereby our substantial donation would support the work of the sanctuary in return for photographs and chimp updates.

The chimps and volunteers are segregated by an electric fence, which juts out in the lake as although the chimps are generally afraid of water, Sunday isn’t and we heard the story of how a local boat tied up illegally on the island and how Sunday found his way into it, drifted out to see and had to be rescued.

Tour over, an optional lunch was available if ordered on arrival.

On the return journey, we crossed the equator although it was a slightly underwhelming experience.

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.