Africa’s longest running chimp rehabilitation centre located in the River Gambia National Park.
Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Association project
Home > The Chimp Rehab Trust and Badi Mayo visitor accommodation
Located in the River Gambia National Park is The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Association (CRA) which is Africa's Longest running and one of the most successful chimp rehab centers. The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Association has been operating in The Gambia since 1969 with the intention of allowing orphaned chimpanzees the opportunity to live and grow up wild in their natural environment.
Founded by Stella Marsden, it was for along time it was very successfully managed by the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust and in 2006 they decided to allow small groups from the public to visit to help fund the project. Very sadly Stella died in early 2008 and since then the chimpanzee project has been taken over by new management and as far as I know it is currently not possible to stay there. All is not lost however as if you do take a trip up the Gambia river by boat there is still a good chance of seeing chimpanzees as indeed I did on my last visit to the Gambia.
For reference there is some more Historical Information on the Project is below:
The Project protects over 85 chimpanzees and like with most projects of this nature, funding is always a problem. If you are interested, there are a few ways you can help, either by adopting one of the chimps, just donating money or by visiting the scheme and staying at the Badi Mayo Visitor camp where not only will you be able to see the chimpanzees but also know that the money you spend is going towards protecting these fantastic primates. It is also important to note that the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust is a UK registered charity (No.1081151) and The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Association project (CRA) is a Gambian registered charity. More information about CRT, CRA and Badi Mayo is on the website WWW.chimprehab.com
The River Gambia National Park
Not only home to the Chimpanzees, the Gambia River National park also has hippos, Nile crocodile, western red colobus monkeys, callithrix monkeys, baboons and a vast variety of Gambia's fantastic birdlife. The national park covers an area of almost six square kilometers and consists of five small islands located on the Gambia river south west of Kuntaur.
Stella Marsden, nee Brewer
The project started with Stella Marsden, nee Brewer who is the daughter of Eddie Brewer who was the founder of Abuko Nature Reserve. Initially Stella set out to provide long-term care for chimps that had been pets or had been confiscated and then sent to her. Over time she developed the idea of rehabilitation into the success story of CRA with the more than 85 chimps living in the RGNP as they would in the wild but fully protected from human beings.
Stella wrote a book called Forest Dwellers which was published in 1978 to help with funding the project, which is available from CRT's online shop at WWW.chimprehab.com and from amazon:
Amazon UK: Forest Dwellers by Stella Brewer
Amazon USA: Forest Dwellers by Stella Brewer
Please note: As far as I know it is currently no longer possible to stay on the island, but I have decided to leave this information here for the moment in the hope that they will soon work out their problems and that things can return to normal. To check on the latest status, a good idea is to contact Hidden Gambia, who run their Bird Safari Camp on MacCarthy Island, not too far away and I am sure they will be more than happy to advise you.
Accommodation at the Chimp Rehabilitation Project
So what exactly is Badi Mayo? Well it is basically the Safari tented accommodation for visitors to the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Association project in the River Gambia National Park.
Some Background on Badi Mayo
At Badi Mayo, you have a unique opportunity to stay in tented safari accommodation in the Gambia River national Park and which is right next to the chimp rehab center's working camp. Here you will be able to witness first hand the incredible conservation work that Stella Brewer is doing, you will also get the chance to watch the chimps at close range from a boat where Stella is most likely to be on hand to give you a unique perspective into the lives of the chimpanzees or to answer any questions that you may have.
As well as the chimps there are hippos, Western Red Colobus, Green vervet, baboons, warthog, manatee, otters, hyena and, of course the huge variety of bird life that the Gambia is famous for.
Benefiting the entire local community
What is also very exciting is that the local people benefit directly from the conservation of their country’s wildlife because the fact that the chimps exist here has already brought real, tangible benefits to the villagers near the national park and these include: direct and indirect employment, with more than 300 children currently sponsored at the local primary & nearby secondary schools, the rebuilding of the school (by Future in Our Hands, a Swedish NGO), a small village clinic, a Horse & Donkey project that helps farmers look after their equines better thus improving both the farmers’ agricultural productivity and the welfare of the animals. On top of this Badi Mayo is an excellent place for those looking to get away from it all.
The Accommodation at Badi Mayo
The tented safari accomodation consists of four, 2- bedded en suite Safari tents, each of these is set on a platform located just below the lip of the mainland cliffs and overlook the River Gambia and the islands of the national park. The Safari tents are placed about 50-80 meters apart giving you a feeling of privacy, with out being completely isolated. How does having a shower under the stars with the River Gambia below shimmering in the moonlight below sound?
Some winding stairs take you down from the cliff top to the river’s edge the water house, which sits on stilts over the River Gambia. The water house is a relaxation area where drinks and meals are served.
The food at Badi Mayo is basic, you will be served a mixture of local Gambian food as well as and European. There is Beer and soft drinks available for you to purchase.
Cost: The price is from £100 per person per night for full board inclusive of collection by boat from Kuntaur (north bank) to Badi Mayo & return, two excursions a day (including the river safari/chimp viewing boat trip) and national park entry fees.
An Example Itinerary:
To come and stay at Badi Mayo from the coast and only stay for one night is not recommended as the visit would be just too rushed and you will not get the full enjoyment from the chimpanzee Safari and everything else that the rest of the Badi Mayo has to offer. Most people stay for three nights ( and are very sad to leave!)
Day 1- You arrive at the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project in the afternoon, after checking in you may go on a river safari around the River Gambia National Park Islands. Stella will sometimes be with you and you will get to see the chimps and some of the National Parks 40-50 hippos, crocodiles and the birdlife.
You will return to Badi Mayo as the sun sets for some drinks and a refreshing shower under the stars. During and after supper you can chat to Stella any part of her work that may be of interest to you, or just relax and enjoy being in the African bush.
Day 2 - In the morning the options on what you decide to do include bird watching on the Gambia river or on the islands of the Gambia River National park. You could take a trip to Sambel Kunda, enjoy a horse ‘chariot’ ride through the forest park, visit the school, clinic or visit the Horse and Donkey Association HQ. In the afternoon you can go on a river safari for some more chimp viewing.
Day 3 - Again choose from the options above or just relax before leaving Badi Mayo before mid-day.
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