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Chimpanzee and Wildlife Orphanage

Chingola, Zambia
from £1,329 (2 weeks)

Ref: AV042

Live in close contact with over 100 chimpanzees and other animals in need of care and attention, including bush babies, monkeys and squirrels. Witness the incredible animal relationships in the close knit chimpanzee family structure, and be part of the day-to-day care of the orphanage's inhabitants.

Who can join: 18 years and over
Accommodation: Dormitory-style accommodation
Transfer time: approx. 3 hours
Pick up Point: Ndola airport
Meals: Meals included
Volunteer numbers: approx. 8

Duration & Fees

2 weeks£1,329
3 weeks£1,687
4 weeks£2,045
5 weeks£2,403
6 weeks£2,761
7 weeks£3,119
8 weeks£3,477

Please note: there is an additional fee for odd week (3, 5, 7 weeks) return transfers - additional £170

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Start Dates

The start date for this project is every other Monday. Volunteers need to arrive into Ndola on the Sunday before the placement commences. Sunday night will be spent in a local guesthouse and volunteers will be collected by 1.30 pm on their Monday start date.

2020 Start Dates:

13 Jan | 27 Jan | 10 Feb | 24 Feb | 9 Mar | 23 Mar | 6 Apr | 20 Apr | 4 May | 18 May | 1 June | 15 Jun | 29 Jun | 13 Jul | 27 Jul | 10 Aug | 24 Aug | 7 Sep | 21 Sep | 5 Oct | 19 Oct | 2 Nov | 6 Nov | 30 Nov

This project closes for the festive season

For volunteers who join for 3, 5 and 7 weeks a private return transfer fee of 250 USD is payable directly to the project staff.


£180 deposit at time of booking – balance payment of project fee due 12 weeks before departure

What's Included

  • Financing that goes directly back into the project and to the Chimpanzees and other orphan animals, facilitating the continued care and rehabilitation of animals in need as well as food, management and maintenance of the sanctuary
  • Return transfers to and from Ndola airport to the sanctuary
  • Full board and lodging including three meals a day
  • Assistance from Project Staff and arrival orientation
  • The service of a cleaner to attend to the room.

What's not included

  • All items of a personal nature, such as curios, gifts, clothing (work and other)
  • Return flights to Ndola
  • Email and telephone calls made during the placement
  • Any excursions over and above the planned itinerary
  • Personal insurance cover for the duration of the placement, which is expected to include cover for repatriation
  • Cokes, beers, chocolate and other snack food items
  • Laundry (there are facilities for volunteers to hand wash their own clothes)

The chimpanzee is the animal kingdom's closest relative to human beings.   In fact, chimpanzees are more similar to man than they are to other apes, and research indicates that chimpanzees are over 99% genetically identical to humans.  Baby chimpanzees, for instance, mature at roughly the same rate as humans, often staying close to their mothers until the age of eight.

Chimpanzees are native to Equatorial Africa, and once roamed in vast numbers across 25 countries in West, Central and East Africa.  Relentless poaching, logging, habitat destruction, and human encroachment have reduced the wild population to less than an estimated 150,000, and they are classified as an endangered species.

Chimpanzees are social animals with strong family bonds.  They live in large groups of 25 or more, and female chimpanzees are attentive mothers, often doting on their offspring for the first four or five years of their lives.  Chimpanzees are also efficient hunters and tool-makers, and exhibit many of the same emotions once thought exclusive to humans, such as jealousy, envy and compassion to name a few.

Hunted for meat or captured for sale to foreign zoos and animal testing labs, chimpanzees are disappearing at a rate of 6,000 per year.  The illegal hunting and subsequent sale of primate meat, known as "bushmeat", is a thriving commercial enterprise and is on the increase with the depletion of forests.  Sadly, it is believed that the killer human viruses such as Ebola and AIDS may be related to the consumption of this ape meat, yet the practice shows no signs of abating.

Chimpanzee babies who survive the hunting ordeal are often sold as pets, zoo animals, or circus performers, while some end up in medical research.  Chimfunshi offers a safe haven to all its residents and is home to the healthiest captive chimps in the world.  The chimpanzees live in a very natural habitat in huge enclosures - as close to their natural environment as is possible.

The Wildlife Orphanage

Chimfunshi started as a family-run wildlife orphanage in the north of Zambia and was founded in 1983.  With over one hundred chimpanzees it is the largest chimp sanctuary in the world.  In 2002 an Education Centre was built to provide a facility to teach the youth of Zambia about ecology and wildlife conservation and this Centre is used by local and international students researching group behaviour and ethnic studies and volunteers often assist with conservation education to the school groups.

The work of the orphanage has won a steady stream of honours and awards, including the United Nations Environment Programme's Global 500 Award (2000), the Audi/Terra Nova nomination (2001), a special commendation from the Nedbank/Mail and Guardian Green Trust Awards (2000), and the Jane Goodall Award.  The founders have also been granted MBEs by Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Project Highlights:

  • Partake in behavioural enrichment activities and create individualised enrichment plans for specific chimpanzeees
  • Be a part of the day-to-day life and maintenance of the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world
  • Capture data on chimpanzee interaction, behaviours and any tools used to support the unique research opportunity the centre provides
  • Play an important role in the rehabilitation of endangered chimpanzees
  • Experience life the 'African' way!  Live in a rustic environment in a very beautiful, rural setting
  • Make friends for life with the international volunteers on the programme and immerse yourself in Zambian culture

Volunteer Activities

Please note: This should not be considered a ‘hands on’ project.

Chimpanzee Research
Researchers who visit the orphanage for a few months each year are conducting a large ongoing project to understand how the chimpanzee groups differ in their social dynamics. These differences will inform as to whether there is such thing as a “typical” chimpanzee community, and if there isn’t, how differences in chimpanzee social dynamics affect processes of social learning and cooperation. 

From time to time there may be an opportunity to assist in research at the orphanage. Volunteers may have the opportunity to contribute to the assessment of the social dynamics of the chimpanzee groups, which could involve the distribution of food into the social group or help with video data collection that focuses on infant chimpanzees or high-ranking males.

Volunteers will also be encouraged to take photos and gather history, character and age information about the chimps in order to create identikits. This will also be used to create the orphanage's information guides, family trees and to improve the Education Centre. Collecting and capturing photos of butterflies, birds, reptiles, flowers etc. are encouraged, as there are plans in the future to turn the orphanage into a nature reserve.

Behavioural Enrichment
Some chimpanzees at the orphanage are permanently in large enclosed structures -  some because they are experts at escaping from the large enclosures!  Volunteers work hard to provide some extra stimulation for these chimpanzees and this is known as 'Behavioural Enrichment' and helps to keep the chimps both physically and mentally active.  Some taks in which volunteers may take part include:

  • making permanent behavioural enrichment structures and toys to entertain the chimps - such as tyre swings, shaking boxes etc
  • making temporary toys and challenges for the chimps (often food based) to help to keep them occupied
  • taping food to walls in places that are difficult to reach so that the chimps must improvise to get the food
  • filling drilled holes in logs with porridge to replicate termiting behaviour, and providing the chimps with sticks to fish them out
  • providing company to these particular enclosed chimpanzees which helps to enrich their lives

Volunteers are encouraged to be creative and come up with their own ideas to enrich the lives of these chimpanzees and may like to undertake some research into the subject before they arrive.

Fruit Tree Nursery
This nursery was started at the beginning of 2012 in order to contribute towards the sustainability of the project.  Exotic  fruit trees such as mangoes, avocados and guavas will be planted in orchards and the fruit harvested and used to feed the chimps.  Volunteers will help with propogation, bagging, weeding, watering and planting of fruit tree seedlings.

The orphanage has in the past, and to a lesser extent to-day, on donations to buy the food to feed the chimpanzees along with donations of expired fruit and vegetables from local grocery stores.   A extra piece of land was bought a few years ago with the aim of the orphanage becoming self-sufficient and less reliant on donations, and a part of this land is now dedicated to growing crops such as cabbages, maize, sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes and groundnuts.  There is always a lot of work to be done here and all volunteers will work at the farm once or twice a week.  There will be opportunities to assist with farming duties such as harvesting, sorting, weeding, fertilising, picking oranges and lemons or whatever tasks may be required.

Infrastructure Improvements
The orphanage attracts many visitors and school groups and volunteers have already completed shaded viewing shelters at the enclosures, put up information boards and built picnic sites for visitors.  Volunteers may also act as tour guides at enclosures, staffing the newly built gift shop and office as well as providing English lessons for staff and keepers who wish to improve their language and communication skills.

A Typical Day in the Life of a Volunteer...

Every day is different as animals rarely operate to a schedule – volunteers are asked to remain flexible and open-minded.  Volunteers are encouraged to use their initiative and create enrichment activities for the chimps - agreed with the Project Managers.  Some days are extemely busy and exhausting while others can be quite relaxing.  The following is just to give a general idea.

  • Enjoy a help-yourself breakfast and be ready to leave at 7.45 am for the day.  Packed lunches are provided each day as depending on the day's activities volunteers may only return to the volunteer house at around 4.00 pm
  • Get to work helping with enrichment activities in the enclosure area
  • Take part in stimulation activities for the chimps
  • Help with food preparation for the chimps if required
  • Assist in cleaning enclosures, indoor rooms and storage rooms for the chimps
  • Have a lunch break and eat packed lunch
  • Help to make toys to amuse and stimulate the chips; water plants at the fruit nursery; build structures to improve visitor facilities
  • Return to base at around 4.00 pm to shower, relax, sit around the campfire and have dinner with fellow volunteers at 6.00 pm

Volunteers work a five day week with Sundays off.  On Fridays there may be the opportunity to go to the nearest town, Chingola, to browse the local markets or buy snacks or curios.  Wednesday is "orphanage day" when volunteers will go to the original orphanage location and meet one of the founders and assist with the care of the chimpanzees that remain there due to current space constraints at the enclosures.  Lunch is eaten on the banks of the Kafue River, at the farm area of Chimfunshi, followed by afternoon work on the farm assisting with fruit picking, irrigation, planting or fertilising of the crops - fruit being a large part of the chimps' diet.

Optional Excursions

Zambia is a fantastic country to visit with some wonderful National Parks such as Kafue and South Luangwa.  Some volunteers travel into Livingstone after their placement to see the world famous Victoria Falls - and enjoy some of the many adrenaline-filled activities there such as white water rafting, bungee jumping and micro-lighting to name a few.  Project staff will be able to help with any arrangements that volunteers wish to make.  Alternatively, many volunteers join an Overland Tour to see more of Africa while they are there.  Amanzi Travel can offer suggestions for such tours and make all necessary arrangements.  Why not contact them now?

The following optional activities are arranged about once every two weeks depending on numbers and demand.

Canoe Trips on the Kafue River
The beautiful Kafue River runs through Chimfunshi and volunteers have the opportunity to go down the river in canoes - which is fun and relaxing and a good opportunity to enjoy some of the area's wildlife with many birds and an occasional otter to be seen.

Dinner with the Workers at their Homes and Shana-Shana (Dance-Dance)
This is a good way to experience Zambian culture - seeing what it is like to live in Zambia and learning how to prepare local food and share it with the staff and their families.  Dance to local music and get a feel for this very special part of Africa.

Night out in Muchinshi Village
This is another good way to experience Zambian culture and mingle with the locals.  Muchinshi is the nearest village to Chimfunshi and there are informal bars where volunteers can enjoy a few drinks, try some local beers, play pool or dance to Zambian music.

Football on the Floodplain
The staff and children at Chimfunshi often enjoy a game of football in the afternoons after work and this is great for anhone enjoying a competitive game of football and for those who prefer, an opportunity to play and interact with the younger children and help to improve their English-speaking skills.

Sundowner, braai/barbecue and stargazing on the Floodplain
Braais and barbecues are often organised on the floodplain or out in the bush.  This is a great place to watch the sun go down, eat some good food and star gaze after dark.

Getting There

Volunteers should fly into Simon Mwansa Kapepwe International Airport, Ndola, Zambia on the Sunday before their placement starts.  They will be met by a representative from Katuba Guest House where volunteers will spend the Sunday night.  Volunteers will then be collected by a project representative from Katuba Guest House on the Monday morning that their placement starts.  The drive to the project is about 4 hours each way.  There are direct flights from Johannesburg with South African Airways and Nairobi with Kenyan Airways.  

Volunteers will need to pay for the overnight accommodation themselves, the cost of the overnight stay being USD 57.  This includes the transfer on arrival from the airport to the guest house, the overnight accommodation, an evening meal and continental breakfast on the Monday morning.  Guest House booking arrangements will be made by the Amanzi Travel and the cost of the overnight accommodation will be added to the volunteer's invoice on their My Journey page.   Departing volunteers will be dropped off at Ndola airport by project staff at 11.00 am on their last day.   Any volunteers flying out the next day can be dropped off at their accomodation between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm and will have to arrange an airport transfer for the next day.  Full details and advice are provided in the pre-departure pack. 

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence and we can arrange any flight requirements that you have upon request.

A perfect way to explore more of Africa

Before heading straight back home, why not take an Overland Journey through Africa to explore more of the wonderful sights and experiences that this beautiful continent has to offer.  You can take a trip that starts and finishes in the same city (eg Windhoek to Windhoek) or you can use it as an opportunity to get your from one city to another (eg Cape Town to Nairobi).

“This has got to be the best way to see Africa in a short period of time ... brilliant. The guides were fantastic, the campsites great, and the food excellent. The overland trip was excellent - really well run”
Southern Sun 21 days, Cape Town to Victoria Falls - Jennie and Stuart, Sweden, aged 32 and 34.

“I didn’t know I could become such close friends with people in just a week. The trip attracts a great group of people who are so easy to get along with. My group ranged from 20 to 70 and we all sat down with a drink, played cards together and just gathered around the campfire.  It was an experience of a lifetime and I will definitely recommend this to my friends and family”
Tanzanian Game Parks and Zanzibar, 10 Days and Masai Mara Safari, 3 Days - Sara, Canada/Malaysia, aged 20.

 From 3 days to 56 days, take a look at the exciting Overland Trips here.

Support and Orientation

Support and advice is available from Amanzi Travel office staff and project/trip leaders. Upon booking, you will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack that provides all the details you will need to prepare for your trip.  This document includes information on accommodation, staff, visas, optional activities, packing checklist and medical advice and if you have any questions that are not answered in the pack we are always on hand to help and advise. We will do all we can to ensure that you are well prepared and looking forward to your trip. You will also receive an in country orientation on arrival.

A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emergency contact number is provided for everyone who travels with us.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence (9401) and is able to arrange your flights on request giving you financial protection for your flight and trip costs. We also offer advice on personal travel insurance for your trip.

Chingola, Zambia, Chimpanzee and Wildlife OrphanageChingola, Zambia, Chimpanzee and Wildlife OrphanageChingola, Zambia, Chimpanzee and Wildlife OrphanageChingola, Zambia, Chimpanzee and Wildlife OrphanageChingola, Zambia, Chimpanzee and Wildlife OrphanageVolunteers stay in on-site dormitory style accommodation, shared with other volunteers.  The accommodation and facilities are comfortable but basic and include a bed and bedding, toilets, showers and washing facilities.  Toilets and showers are just outside the volunteer block.  Showers have hot water in the late afternoon/evening and toilets are earth toilets.  Facilities are cleaned daily.  There is electricity available in the volunteer accommodation with points available for charging personal equipment.  Electricity is solar and must be conserved for the use of all.  Internet for a small charge on a shared computer but connections can be very slow in Africa.

Three catered meals a day are provided.  Breakfast is help yourself, lunch is a picnic eaten whilst out on the project and dinner is a cooked meal.

There is a laundry service available for a small fee or volunteers may do hand washing themselves. Transport into the nearest town is available on a weekly basis to get supplies.

Click here to view the full interactive mapZambia - Take A Working Holiday & Support Local Communities

Why visit Zambia?

For anyone out to experience the ‘real’ Africa, Zambia is that diamond in the rough. The country boasts some of Africa’s best game parks and shares (with Zimbabwe) some of the region’s major highlights, such as Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, Lower Zambezi National Park and South Luangwa National Park. South Luangwa National Park is one of the best parks in Africa for night game-drives. More than 60 mammal species and over 400 bird species are found in this Park, which is also renowned for thousands of hippo and crocodiles. Luangwa is the birthplace of the Walking Safari and there is no better way to explore this wilderness. Featuring leafy woodlands, slow-moving river channels and lily-bedecked lagoons, South Luangwa is renowned for the expertise of its guides. It is also excellent for spotting leopards and is home to about 15,000 elephants and the same number of hippo. The Thornicroft's giraffe and Cookson's wildebeest are unique to the region.

The mighty Zambezi River is tamed by the Lower Zambezi valley, becoming gentle as it spreads languidly across the Valley.  Islands and floodplains create a densely vegetated habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, elephant in particular. This area is seasonal and many of the lodges and camps are closed from November to March. It is also an angler’s dream as fishermen try their luck on the mighty Zambezi, with the hopes of landing a tiger fish or rare, giant vundu. Avid birdwatchers also flock to Zambia to glimpse its fabulous diversity of birds.

Game viewing along the upper Zambezi River by canoe or cruise boat is rewarding and relaxing. Adrenaline junkies may want to experience the spectacular view while bouncing upside down from the end of a bungee cord off the Victoria Falls Bridge. Intrepid travellers will also be attracted by the white-water rafting excursions on the swirling waters of the Zambezi Gorge. Helicopter or micro-light trips over the Falls, game-drives in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, horse trails along the Zambezi River and a visit to Maramba Market are also available. Most activities are accessible from the quaint colonial outback frontier town of Livingstone.

Highlights of Zambia

  • Renowned for its pristine National Parks, including Kafue, South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi.
  • It is named after the mighty Zambezi River flowing along its southern border, which is fed by the Kafue and Luangwa tributaries.
  • Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River are accessible from nearby Livingstone Town.
  • Livingstone is home to numerous activities for adventure seekers, including bungee jumping, white-water rafting and abseiling down the gorge.
  • It boasts one of the largest areas of land under the protection of national parks in Africa, featuring abundant wildlife.
  • Canoeing, rafting and fishing safaris, upstream from the Falls on the Zambezi River, are possible, as are canoeing trips on the Lower Zambezi.
  • Kafue National Park is about the size of Wales or Massachusetts, with exceptional bird watching.
  • The country, shaped by three great rivers, is characterised by water, including a trio of massive lakes -  Lake Tanganyika, Lake Kariba and Lake Bangweulu.


Seasons Max Min
Summer (November - April) 30 ° 26 °
Winter (May - October) 23 ° 20 °
Rainfall: April - May (Long rains) November - Mid December (short rains)

Zambia's elevation on a plateau gives it a moderate climate, despite the fact that it is within tropical latitudes, and the average monthly temperature remains above 20 °C most months.

There are three seasons:

  • cool and dry from May to August, when temperatures drop at night but the landscape is green and lush;
  • hot and dry from September to November, the best time to see wildlife as flora is sparse;
  • warm and wet from December to April, ideal for bird-watching.

The Victoria Falls are spectacular in April and May after the rainy season.

Key Facts

Population – 12.9 million
Capital - Lusaka
Currency – Zambian kwacha (ZMK)
Language – English is the official language, with Nyanja, Bemba, Lunda, Tonga, Lozi, Luvale and Kaonde being recognised regional languages.

Time difference – GMT +2 hours
Telephone – country code 260, international access code 00

Chimpanzee and Wildlife Orphanage

I had and amanzing experience with Amanzi Travel. Everything was so simple, they found flights for me at a good price, they picked me up and dropped me off on time. Any questions I had they were very helpful in every way they could be!. I would so recommend this company, it's very safe as safety always comes first with volunteers, pick them if you want to get the best out of your money for a life-changing experience .

My project in Zambia (Lion Rehabilitation ) was brilliant and the project co-ordinators went out of their way to ensure we had a brilliant time. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I would love to return in the future! All the staff involved were brilliant at organising activities and had a wealth of knowledge which they were all happy to share. I would truly recommend this experience to everyone . I really would have liked to stay more than 2 weeks!!

Sandra, Spain, aged 36 (Zambia Lion Conservation and Community, Chimpanzee and Wildlife Orphanage)

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