Ngamba Island -Chimp viewing and Birding

Ngamba Island is a chimpanzee sanctuary for 49 orphaned chimps currently. Numbers may continue to grow because of the illicit trade of chimps. Lucky enough there is an organization like the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and wildlife trust (CSWCT) an NGO that has taken it upon themselves with the support of donors to provide exceptional care to the chimps.

The chimps are confiscated and rescued throughout Uganda. They are later handed over to the wildlife authorities who entrust the chimps with the NGO.

Chimp viewing and Birding

A visit to this island is such a wonderful experience. My visits to this place have always been exciting. On my recent trip with friends we extended our trip to neighbouring  Koome Island for bird watching where we were surprised to see the Black bellied Bustard mostly seen at Lake Mburo National Park. Seeing the chimps feed is such a humbling experience. What impresses the onlooker is the time keeping and the gesture requests for food. Indeed they are man’s closet relatives .Chimps are fed four times a day on the Island. Chimp Intelligence is 98.7%.

These chimps are held behind an electric fence so that they do not escape. The NGO has done its best to keep them in the forest habitat alongside caged shelter. This is done to enable the chimps to assimilate to its original environment and also have a chance to closely look after them.

It is humbling to listen to the sanctuary care taker stories about their behavior especially the battle for the Alpha male position, grooming and looking after the young chimps. The rivalry for this position reminds me of the various leadership rivalries at School, Sports arenas and Politics where individuals compete for positions. The chimps are no exception since they are man’s closest relatives.

There are many activities at the Island available to the visitor that includes Chimpanzee feeding, visiting the nearby fishing villages, become a care giver for a day, go for a sunset cruise. If you are bird watching enthusiast, you can go birding at the nearby Koome Island.

Voluntering

Volunteer programs are also available at the Island and other natural habitats in western Uganda. This program gives you a firsthand insight into the conservation activities of these endangered species. This enables you the visitor to further educate yourself and the public about the importance of chimpanzee conservation .Meet Medina the chimp artist and other chimps with interesting stories. You have to be there yourself to capture the real stories.

Any visitor Restrictions: No visitor age restrictions. All are welcome.

Accommodation: Tented accommodation is available with additional camping tents.

A Night visitor will also be able to enjoy an evening camp fire.

Booking: Book directly with the Ngamba reservations office or tour operators like Rafiki Eco Safaris.

How to get there:

Ngamba Island is 23km on Lake Victoria. It can be accessed through Entebbe by boat. The boats cater for various groups and budgets. Traditional motorized canoe takes 90 minutes. Speed boats travel for approximately 45- 50 minutes. Half and day boat trips leave at 9:00am or 12:45pm.

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Amabere Caves- Explore history and Crater lakes

This is a popular historical site about 10 km from Fort Portal Municipality. There is a legendary tale that has kept it lively till today. Waterfalls and Caves welcome you. The picturesque crater lakes nearby are breathtaking. This tourist site in Kabarole district.It is preserved by the Rubombora family. They have preserved it for the future generations. The guides at the site are quite knowledgeable about the historical and scientific formation of the breast like formations on the rocks.

The locals explain that these breast like features hanging below the cave are associated with a legendary tale of a daughter who disobeyed her father.She was an attractive beautiful girl.It is told that King Bukuku of the Cwezi dynasty that gave birth to the current Tooro and Bunyoro Kingdoms cut off her breasts for refusing to marry the husband chosen for her. She later fled to this place and disappeared without trace. Therefore it believed that the oozing pillars on the rocks represent her breasts and milk.

Scientists call the hanging pillars that look like breasts, stalagmites and stalactites. The site guide explains that the oozing milk is calcium that rolls over the rocks as a result of the waterfalls over the rocks. He cautions you to avoid touching them, because they take several years to grow to their current size otherwise you risk breaking them thus hindering them from further growth. Stalactites and stalagmites are considered as part of a Country’s natural heritage and are protected by law in some countries.

The largest stalagmite in the world is in the cave of Cueva San Martin Infierno, Cuba. It is 220 feet high (62.2 metres).

Guide explaining the formation of Stalagmites and Stalactites

Guide sharing information on Stalagmites and Stalactites

As you walk down the caves you will enjoy the Nyakasura Waterfalls that pours its waters to the basement of the caves. During the rainy season the paths are slippery so it is advisable to watch your steps.

An extended walk to the surrounding is quite enjoyable and requires physical fitness. You will enjoy the crater lake scenery and have the chance to view them at the top of the hill.

How to get there

Amabere caves can be accessed by private transport. Since it is a short distance you can hire a taxi or tour operator to the site from Fort portal town. If it is part of your itinerary to other destinations, most tour operators will drive you there.

Accomodation

The Rubombora family has B&B accommodation on the site.

More accommodation is available in Fort Portal town that fits your budget.

This site combines well with nature walks, culture and cave exploration.

Other destinations that can be visited alongside the caves include Semuliki National Park, Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.