On a farm deep in the African bush, about 65km northwest of Chingola, is this impressive chimpanzee sanctuary that's undoubtedly the standout highlight in the Copperbelt region. Home to around 120 adult and young chimps, most have been rescued from poachers and traders in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo or other parts of Africa. This is not a natural wildlife experience, but it’s still a unique and fascinating opportunity to observe the chimps as they feed, play and socialise.
One of the largest sanctuaries of its kind in the world, it was started by Sheila and David Siddle on their farm; Sheila and her daughter still run the orphanage here. Visiting the sanctuary provides much-needed income and your entry fees go directly to helping it remain financially viable. Please do not visit if you’re sick, as the chimps can easily die of a simple disease like the flu.
Visitors can come to the sanctuary any time during the day, however the highlight, though, is observing the chimps feeding in their wild enclosures in the project area. The best times generally to see them are from 10am to 11.30am, and 1.30pm to 3pm when they are out in the open (not in the concrete blocks they enter for their morning feed).
It is also possible to volunteer at Chimfunshi for a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 90 days. Contact Chimfunshi directly for more details or sign up through the African Impact (www.africanimpact.com) website. Volunteers get involved in all facets of the project, including fencing, cleaning out the chimps’ feeding areas and helping out at feeding times.
To get here from Chingola, it's a rough, slow two-hour drive; most people use a private vehicle, though it's possible to catch public transport most of the way by taking any Solwezi-bound bus to Muchinshi, from where you'll need to have pre-arranged a pick up for the remainder of the 25km journey (ZMW100 per person).