Mpumalanga Tourist AttractionsChimp Eden
Where? 47 R40, Barberton Road, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, South Africa
How? Call +27 (0)79 777-1514
Nelspruit, also known as Mbombela, is perched on the mighty Crocodile River, making it one of the Mpumalanga Province’s prettiest cities. It is also the home of Chimp Eden, where misplaced and rescued chimps live out a life of peace, fun and security, while visitors get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be around them.
The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) South Africa Chimpanzee Sanctuary, as Chimp Eden is also known, is idyllically placed within the Umhloti Nature Reserve, which spans a tranquil 1 000 hectares. The JGI has been working for decades to pioneer research on chimps and to be an integral part of their rescue, rehabilitation and, when possible, release. This organisation’s efforts have led to so many inspiring survival stories and touching tales of these intelligent animals. Today, it is at the fore of the global initiative to conserve and preserve endangered species, as well as the habitats in which they live. Chimp Eden is proud to be part of such incredible efforts.
Chimp Eden was established in 2006, but remains the only sanctuary for chimpanzees in the country, ensuring that visitors get a unique experience that is very special for the whole family. Chimps are endangered, according to the IUCN Red List Criteria, and those in the wild could be extinct in the next decade or two if drastic action is not taken in their defence.
Chimpanzees are considered to be the closest living relatives to human beings. Their insight, love, humour, curiosity and mischief shine through as visitors look on, watching them interact with one another, rear their young, and simply enjoy the natural habitat in which they now reside happily and safely.
Many of the residents of Chimp Eden have been rescued from zoos, circuses, beach resorts and nightclubs; while others were heading for the bush meat trade or the illegal pet market. Some were orphaned, with no hope of surviving on their own. These ones were all taken in, fed, treated for medical conditions, and put into the beautiful surrounds that are designed especially for them.
The Chimpanzee Tours are conducted at 10h00, 12h00 and 14h00 every day, as long as the weather holds out. Each tour takes about an hour and an experienced guide shares insights into the animals at large as well as into individual residents of the sanctuary, their history and their unique personalities. There are viewing points throughout the walk, allowing visitors a good perspective of the animals as they go about their normal cleaning, eating, sleeping and playing routines. They have so much character, and it is not uncommon to have a group of giggling onlookers. There are three different chimp groups and enclosures at Chimp Eden. These include spacious forests and foraging areas.
The Chimp Chow Café is situated at Chimp Eden for the convenience of visitors that want to have a quick snack and a cold drink before a tour, or those that want to relax with friends and family and indulge in something more languid. The veranda promises spectacular views of Mpumalanga’s countryside and its koppies, which make for a near-perfect backdrop to dining in South Africa.
There is also a curio shop at Chimp Eden, well stocked to cater to the needs of those that want keepsakes of their special time here or gifts for those back home. There is Chimp Eden branded merchandise available here as well as gimmicky toys, beauty products, clothing, and more.
Chimp Eden is open from Monday to Sunday, 08h00 to 16h00.