A guide To Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary opened in 1993 to provide refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa. An initial group of three orphans were brought to the sanctuary from Burundi. They were evacuated due to civil war. In 1995, nine adults were given refuge and 10 in 1996.
It now has 43 chimpanzees in the sanctuary. The chimpanzees live in two groups separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River.
The chimpanzees’ natural home range spans from Senegal on the West African coast, through the central forested belt of Africa, to Uganda. They are not native to Kenya, but when a rescue centre in Burundi had to be closed due to the civil war outbreak in 1993 – Ol Pejeta opened its doors.
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established with an agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Jane Goodall Institute. The aim – to provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa. Over the last decade, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary has been compelled to keep accepting chimpanzees rescued from traumatic situations – bringing the total number of chimpanzees in the Sanctuary to 42. Many are confiscated from cramped and unnatural living conditions, and many arrive with horrific injuries sustained from abuse at the hands of humans. Here at Sweetwaters, they get a chance to start over.
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With 24-hour veterinary support and a stimulating quarantine enclosure, chimpanzees arriving at the Sanctuary are carefully nursed back to health. When they are ready, they are introduced into one of the two large groups at the Sanctuary, who live in vast natural enclosures separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River. The chimps have set feeding times, and return to their indoor enclosures at night – but other than that they spend their days exploring, climbing, socialising, and learning to be chimpanzees all over again.
Sweetwaters is a chartered member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), an alliance of 18 sanctuaries in 12 African countries; currently caring for over 800 orphaned and/or confiscated chimpanzees. PASA’s role is to help conserve chimpanzees and other primates and their habitats through public education and lobbying for political goodwill.
How to get to Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary
By road: The drive to Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary from Nairobi takes about 3-4 hours. The road from Nairobi to Nanyuki is tarmacked, and the last 13 kilometres to Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary is dirt. From Nakuru/ Naivasha; it is best to take the road via Nyahururu and Nyeri to enter Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary through Nanyuki. About 6.5km after Nanyuki airstrip, there is a sign to Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary on the left, and it is signposted all the way to Rongai Gate. 4×4 vehicles are essential in the rainy season.
By air: There are daily scheduled flights from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Nanyuki airstrip, which is a 45 minute drive from Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary Contacts
Attraction Type: Wildlife
Category: Animal Sanctuary
Region: Mt. Kenya
City / Town: Nanyuki
Road / Street: Ol Pejeta
Telephone: 254 707 187141
254 20 203 3244
Entrance Fee: Yes