Rubondo Island Camp

Sample Itinerary—Rubondo Chimp Habituation Experience

Curated exclusively for National Geographic

On a protected island in Lake Victoria, set out on an African wildlife experience with a twist. Go on safari by foot, vehicle, and canoe, discovering wildlife both terrestrial and aquatic. Then enjoy a rare opportunity to observe wild chimpanzees and participate in their habituation.

Your stay at the lodge will be tailored to your interests. The sample itinerary below was designed for National Geographic travelers and can be customized as you wish.


  • Cruise to the mainland with a guide to explore Kasenda, a typical Tanzanian village on the shores of Lake Victoria. Learn about life here on a guided walk with a local, meeting community members as you go. (National Geographic Exclusive)
  • Join researchers deep in the jungle of Rubondo Island to track and help habituate wild chimpanzees.
  • Join the chimp habituation team for dinner cooked over an open fire, and fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle in a “fly camp.”
  • Observe giant crocodiles, monitor lizards, and hippos aboard a traditional dhow sailboat.

Day 1—Arrive Rubondo Island, Tanzania

Fly to Rubondo Island, arriving in time for an afternoon sundowner overlooking Lake Victoria. Get settled in your waterfront chalet and take in the views of the world’s second largest freshwater lake as well as its wildlife—from playful otters to a dazzling array of birds, including the majestic fish eagle. During dinner, watch for hippos at the lake’s edge.

Days 2-3—Tracking Chimpanzees

Following an early breakfast, venture into the forest with the chimpanzee tracking team. The island’s chimps first came to the island in the 1960s when scientists rescued them from zoos and circuses around Europe. Now scientists are working to habituate their wild offspring to human presence. Spend time observing chimps with scientists, learning about their behavior and the habituation process. As you delve deeper into the subtropical wilderness, watch for life all around you; possible sightings include sitatunga and bushbuck (both endemic antelopes) as well as elephants. Enjoy dinner cooked over an open fire and fall asleep listening to the sounds of the jungle in a “fly camp,” a simple domed tent. Rise early the following morning for a final chimp-tracking excursion, and then head back to the lodge by foot, boat, or safari vehicle.

Day 4—Life on the Lake

Take a guided excursion to the lakeside village of Kasenda, and get to know the locals and their way of life on a walk. Back at the lodge, board a traditional dhow sailboat for a sunset cruise past bird islands, where you can spot Rubondo’s giant crocodiles, monitor lizards, and hippos. Or simply revel in the sights and sounds of the forest and lake from the pool or your private veranda.

Day 5—Depart

After breakfast, fly back to mainland Tanzania and on to your next destination.