Chimpanzee Sanctuary

  • chimpanzee at Sweetwaters
  • chimpanzee at Sweetwaters

During your stay on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, you can visit the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary - the only place in Kenya where this highly endangered and remarkably intelligent species can be seen!

Visitors to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy have free access to the Sanctuary, which is open daily from 10:00 to 16:30.

The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary opened in 1993 in a negotiated agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Jane Goodall Institute. The facility was initially established to receive and provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) from West and Central Africa. An initial group of three chimpanzee orphans were brought to the sanctuary from a facility in Bujumbura, Burundi in 1993. This group of chimpanzees needed to be evacuated due to the outbreak of civil war in Burundi. This was followed in 1995 by another group of 9 adult chimpanzees, followed by another 10 in 1996. 

  • chimpanzee at Sweetwaters
  • viewing platform at Sweetwaters
  • chimpanzees at Sweetwaters

Over the last decade Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary has been compelled to keep accepting chimpanzees rescued from traumatic situations bringing the total number of chimpanzees in the Sanctuary to 42. At Sweetwaters Sanctuary chimpanzees are being carefully nursed back to health so they can enjoy the rest of their days in the safety of a vast natural enclosure. The chimpanzees live in two large groups separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River. Sweetwaters is a chartered member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), an alliance of 18 sanctuaries in 12 African countries, currently caring for over 800 orphaned and/or confiscated chimpanzees. PASA’s role is to help conserve chimpanzees and other primates and their habitats through public education and lobbying for political goodwill.


Noisy and curious, intelligent and social, chimpanzees are the closest living relatives of humans, sharing approximately 98% of our genetic blueprint. These mammals have the ability to stand and walk upright while also having the ability to move effectively on all fours. Thanks to the opposable thumbs on their hands and feet, chimpanzees make use of tools such as rocks to crack nuts in half or sticks inserted into mounds to ‘fish’ for termites, and are the only primates to have developed tool use to such an advanced level.

Learn more at our visitors centre located within the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary!

Adopt a chimp at Sweetwaters
Photo credits: Martin Krestow (x3), Angela Omune, Drew Fellman, Teeku Patel /