Take a trip to the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary when staying in Freetown. It is one of the world's most valuable natural habits, helping preserve the species of the chimpanzee in the region. It is also, the perfect escape from the city to enjoy the peace of Sierra Leone's unique rain forests.
The sanctuary's history dates back to 1988 when Bala Amarasekaran and his wife bought a chimpanzee in one of the villages of Sierra Leone. After a couple of years, he was taking care of chimpanzees at home. In addition, many were smuggled or killed in the area, and slowly they were beginning to become extinct. Amarasekaran realized then that they had to find a home for them. With funds and help from the EU, in 1995, the sanctuary was officially opened with Amarasekaran as director of the project. It took several years for the sanctuary to really establish, even going through civil wars. It was in 2003 that it began taking shape.To this day they have about 80 orphan chimpanzees and, every one of them has a name. The sanctuary covers 100-acres of rain forest and, it is only a 40-minute drive from Freetown.
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If you feel like staying overnight, the Sanctuary offers eco-lodges to spend a relaxing night, escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city of Freetown. The night rate includes a tour and breakfast. Meals are also offered for an extra cost. Buy drinks, snacks and local crafts in the gift shop.
Tours are held every day at 10:30 and 16:00 and must be booked in advance, so make sure to check their website. The Sanctuary can't be visited outside the scheduled times and visitors are advised to arrive 15 minutes earlier, as tours start on time and there is no possibility of joining later. The tours usually last about one hour and a half. Wear comfortable shoes and bring clothes suited for rainy days during the rainy season. Facts The Tacugama sanctuary has appeared in many wildlife programs and magazines. There's even a documentary of the Director Amarasekaran called Bala, the Friend of Chimpanzees. The sanctuary caught the attention of the media back in 2000 when they rescued an albino chimpanzee – the only found in the world at the time. Unfortunately, he passed away. Did you know that chimpanzees share 98 percent of their DNA with humans? Also, their behavior is similar to humans, which is why visiting this Sanctuary is an incredible experience you don't want to miss.