The ground breaking Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary is set in a protected area encompassing 100 acres of primary rain forest within the Western Area Reserve, about half an hour’s drive from Freetown. Tacugama is a sanctuary for rescued and orphaned chimpanzees, a pioneering chimp rehabilitation project and an active advocate of habitat and wildlife conservation in Sierra Leone and abroad.

Tacugama launched the first popular education campaign, publicising the fact that capturing and keeping chimps is illegal in Sierra Leone, and has been at the forefront of demands for the enforcement of the law. Three films have been made about the sanctuary and some of its residents.

A tour of the sanctuary leads visitors through the journey that rescued chimps make.  The smallest enclosure houses the youngest and most recently rescued chimps and offers the best opportunities for viewing – beware of chimps climbing the nearest tree bearing stones!

You will also be shown the larger enclosures, which provide a more natural environment as part of the process of rehabilitating chimpanzees for their eventual release into the wild. There are two tours each day, at 10:30am and 4pm, timed to coincide with feeding time, when the chimps congregate along the edges of the enclosures.  The largest is a 30-acre pocket of rainforest where you will be lucky to see the animals from the viewing platform. It’s not ideal for photos, but a comfort to those of us who harbour suspicions about sanctuaries that look like little more than nice zoos.

You can stay the night in one of six comfortable eco-lodges. Read our review of staying at Tacugama.

Helen Kennedy

Travel Specialist

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