A visit to the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project’s camp, is an unforgettable experience and provides an opportunity to visit more of the real Gambia and its wildlife.
Our Expert Opinion
"There are so few places in the world where you can view chimps in their natural habitat, and how fantastic that The Gambia is one of them! A truly magical place."
- Alison Collins, Commercial
What we love
- The chimps of course – it’s an incredible opportunity to see these amazing animals living free on their islands.
- Star-gazing at night and listening to the sounds of Africa all around you.
Good to know
- There are a large number of steps leading from the tents down to the river and restaurant, also a few between tents and shared toilets, so a good level of fitness is required – it can also be very hot.
Gambian wildlife at its best
A fantastic opportunity for wildlife lovers to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat, this unique conservation project began in 1979, and today is home to more than 100 chimps. The chimps live on a series of three islands, which are located around 270km inland from the coast, deep in the heart of the River Gambia National Park.
Open to visitors for four days each week, this conservation project offers accommodation consisting of simple, twin-bedded safari tents on raised platforms, all of which boast astounding views of the national park. You’ll enjoy freshly prepared food in the Waterhouse below whilst you soak up the sights and sounds of the river, the gallery forest, and the main event – the wildlife.
Seeing the chimps and other wildlife
The highlight of your stay here is sure to be the daily two-hour boat trips around the islands, where not only will you get to witness the daily activities of the chimps, but also the hippos, crocodiles and beautiful array of birds who also reside close to the river. This truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see African wildlife at its best with expert guides to inform you. Although the chimps do fend for themselves, due to the growing population their food supply is supplemented on the island riverbanks every other day which is the best time for viewings, although it is unusual not to see them during each boat trip. Access to the islands for guests is prohibited so that the animals' environment is protected.
There are several other activities available such as night walks to see bush babies and morning birdwatching talks and nature walks - often at no additional cost (although you may choose to tip the excellent local guides). An additional morning boat trip is included for guests staying a minimum of 3 nights (although 'Little Africa' is available to other guests for a supplement). This takes you up a picturesque, meandering creek as well as alighting on the main riverbank for a short hike up to a viewpoint overlooking the river and its islands; this was the alleged site of the demise of the last Gambian elephant.
Supporting local villages
The Chimp Rehab Project also works closely with the local villages; for example, by setting up garden projects which can also be visited at certain times of year; or why not drop in at the Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust, a local charitable project? Be sure to take plenty of water and sun hats/sun cream on all excursions, along with any bird books and binoculars that you may bring along - although these can also be borrowed.
Amenities at the camp
The camp has just four twin-bedded safari tents which are large enough to allow you to stand and move around, so you will be one of only a handful of guests. These are situated on elevated platforms high above the riverbank, reached via many steps, with fantastic views over the islands of the National Park. As an eco-camp, the tents are comfortable but basic with a hand basin, outside shower (with water in tanks heated by the sun), and composting toilet shared between two tents, located a short distance away. A separate, flushing toilet is available close to the Waterhouse below, where all meals are taken. The twin beds are surrounded by mosquito nets and towels are provided, although we would recommend packing basic toiletries. Sunbeds on the outside terrace allow you to relax during the day and listen to the uninterrupted sounds of nature around you. Each morning hot water will be delivered to your tent for a cup of tea or coffee before breakfast.
All meals are included; these are simple, freshly prepared dishes served by friendly staff from the local villages in a riverside Waterhouse on stilts. A limited selection of soft and alcoholic drinks (beer and wine, no spirits) are available at reasonable prices.
Adding the Chimp Rehab Project to your holiday
We recommend 2 to 3-night stays, and the camp is closed to tourists on certain days (currently Monday to Wednesday inclusive), so we suggest that you discuss the best itinerary to meet your needs with our expert team. Any combination of hotels is possible; however, we suggest combining with another property in our Unique Collection or taking our Wildlife of The Gambia and Senegal tour.
This is a unique property which offers a wonderful opportunity to experience more of the real Africa and its wildlife, however as it is a working conservation project, the chimps are the priority which is why the camp is closed three days each week to allow the team to focus on the animals. When open to visitors, there will be ample opportunity for you to view (and hear) the chimps in their natural habitat, and to understand more about the work being done to protect this species. Monies received from visitors to the camp are mostly reinvested for the care and welfare of the chimps, with a percentage going to government conservation programmes, as well as being used to support other associated project work that the staff undertake which involve local community development.
Please feel free to speak to our expert staff if you require further details about the journey or the camp itself, and view our photo gallery of the camp and tented accommodation to ensure it suits your needs.
Extra things to note
The journey to the camp is largely along a tarmac road, with the last 30 minutes’ drive being along an unmade track which enables you to see local villages and the changing landscapes of The Gambia. Transportation is by either air-conditioned 4WD or minibus for the 4-5 hour drive.
There is no mains electricity, so dining is by candlelight, and solar-powered lanterns are provided for you at night. We would recommend taking a torch and wearing covered shoes. It is hot during the day with cooler nights during the winter, getting hotter from March onwards. The tents are built to remain as cool as possible, while mosquito nets cover the beds within.
Please note that children under the age of 13 are not permitted at the camp. It is not recommended for those with walking difficulties and, due to the limited number of tents, singles are unfortunately not permitted unless by special arrangement.