Ministry of Trade PS Geraldine Ssali in Anti-Corruption court dock Ministry of Trade PS Geraldine Ssali in dock at the Anti-Corruption

Ngamba Chimpanzee Island closes for residential visitors

This photo taken on June 13, 2024 shows a section of Ngamba Island facility submerged in water. Photo | Eve Muganga

What you need to know:

  • The Executive Director, Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Dr Joshua Rukundo, however, noted that the facility is still open to non-residential visitors

Authorities at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary have closed a section of the facility after water from Lake Victoria submerged the cottages.

This was revealed by the Executive Director, Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Dr Joshua Rukundo while launching a modern boat to transport tourists, on Thursday at Pelican Lodge and Marina in Entebbe. 

‘’The water levels have affected us, specifically our visitor accommodation and restaurant. Being an island, the main attraction is being close to the water, so all our facilities were right on the water’s edge, but with the increase in the water levels over the years,  has forced to close. The last time we closed this section was in 2020 and 2021 not only because of Covid-19, but also because of increased water levels,” he said.

He, however, noted that the facility is still open to non-residential visitors.

Ngamba Island's new boat is expected to increase on the number of tourists. Photo | Marvin Mugerwa

Dr Rukundo informed the visitors who had already booked and paid for accommodation, that they are managing the situation by “partnering with neighbours, so that they can take over some of them as we restructure and plan on how to resume visitor facility services at Ngamba Island.”

He added that they had already identified an alternative place to invest and construct better facilities in case the water level situation persists.

The launched 29-seater modern boat, named MV Eazy, was donated to Ngamba Island by Pelican Lodge and Marina.

“This boat opens up big opportunities. We have a partnership with Uganda Tourism Board, and a number of hotels, including Pelican Lodge and Marina. The partnerships have brought a lot of volumes. The more the numbers, the more cost effective it is for tourists to travel in groups and that’s where we have been lacking capacity. We have been having small boats, with an average sitting capacity of 12 passengers and we had to hire speed boats which makes it expensive and costly to our visitors,” Dr Rukundo said.

He noted that the Sanctuary has a target of having 20,000 visitors per year in the next five years, up from the current 5,000 visitors.

“If it wasn’t for the water levels, our target was to have 7,000 visitors this year,” he said.

Mr Basil Ajer, a Director at the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, appreciated the management of Ngamba Island for keeping the Chimps.

“The Ministry has a vision of increasing the number of tourists to about 4 million annually. It is important that we have a Chimpanzee sanctuary like this, which can attract many visitors, but there is potential to increase the number, especially after launching a boat which will improve the transport, and safety of our visitors,” he said.

He noted that the Ministry signed an MoU with Ngamba Island, which commits it to provision of technical, financial and operational support, among others.

Mr Lodaya Hiren Khushal, Manager Pelican Lodge and Marina said supporting Ngamba Island is in the spirit of promoting tourism.