Early this morning we set off for Entebbe with one last destination in mind. We were headed to Ngamba Island chimpanzee refuge. This trip can be planned as an overnight or a day trip and comes highly recommended. Ngamba Island is an island not far from the shore by Entebbe in Lake Victoria. Our boat ride lasted about an hour with times varying with the amount of wind on that particular day. The island itself is 99% forest with a visitor’s center, staff lodging, a vet station, and a few nice tents for guests. It is the home of various orphaned chimps from all over the world that are integrated into one big family slowly but surely. There are 4 daily feedings where visitors can watch from behind a tall electric fence. The final feeding of the day comes in the evening and it is at this time when they herd as many of the chimps as they can (ideally all of them) into a large enclosed pen. If you plan on spending a night here you can chose from a multitude of activities that get you up close and personal with some of the chimps.
Here is one of the juvenile chimps, Rambo, during feeding time.
A carrot landed on the wrong side of the electric fence. But don’t worry; chimps are quite adept at using tools to obtain their meals. While this chimp initially chose a stick that was too short, a longer stick was nearby.
This morning we prepared for our scheduled activity with the chimps. In order to come in such close proximity you must undergo a multitude of vaccinations. We were supposed to take a forest walk with some of the chimps but not all of the adults had come in from the forest the night before. This meant that it wasn’t safe to head into the forest. Instead we participated in the infant integration activity. During this activity the two newest chimps are slowly introduced to the rest of the family. A large group of young females were brought into a separate enclosure along with the infant chimps and ourselves. A few of the staff of caregivers at the island came with us. They gave us peanuts to give to the chimps. They would actually come up to you and start searching your pockets for the goods! At one point, I suppose after they became more comfortable with us, they started climbing on our backs. Needless to say we had a blast.
After our activity we had to pack up and catch the boat to the mainland. Once we got back to Entebbe we made our way back to the Boma Guest House for our last night in Uganda. What a fantastic trip.
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