Often, we get asked for directions to Tacugama. Needless to say, it can be very confusing, so we thought we’d share a few of these recommendations.
1. Purchase airfare from home country to Freetown. Get VISA for Sierra Leone. Take preferred method of transport to your closest international airport. Board plane. Arrive in Lungi airport. Take a bus to the ocean. Board the Seacoach/Seabird Express boat to Freetown. Take a taxi to Regent. Take a taxi up Congo Dam Access Road. Wait for other tourists in a nice 4×4 vehicle to arrive, and hitchhike with them up the steep hill. Now, after taking almost every known form of transportation, you have arrived!
2. Find a hairy baby and claim you have rescued a chimpanzee and would like to get it to Tacugama. Convince local law enforcement of your claim and have them send a Tacugama team to come rescue the baby. Plead ignorance upon arrival and hope you can join the car ride back to Tacugama.
3. Buy a LOT of bananas. Like a lot. Maybe a few kilos of pineapples and mangos too. Place them at the edge of the Western Area Peninsula National Park. Wait for the chimps to come feed. Pretend to feed amongst them and make excited chimp noises. As they depart, grab onto a female’s back as though you are a helpless youngster. Hope that she accepts you and that their final destination is Tacugama.
4. Find your way to the local Waterloo produce market where Tacugama buys a biweekly supply. Wait for the Tacugama vehicle to arrive. Hide in the truck as the fruit gets loaded, hoping to stay hidden under the mountain of bananas. Arrive at Tacugama and claim amnesia, but that you coincidentally have a love of chimpanzees.
5. Send a video audition for the (nonexistent) Mr./Miss Tacugama competition, proclaiming you are the winner, and demanding that as part of your prize of a free sanctuary tour, a private limo gets sent to pick you up.
But actually though, #1 is almost accurate (minus the hitchhiking)! There are a lot of steps to get here even though we are just minutes outside Freetown. From Freetown, you can either rent a car, charter a taxi to Tacugama, or take public transport (shared taxi, poda poda van, bus, keke/tuk-tuk, or motorbike) to Regent, then hire a taxi from Regent to bring you up to Tacugama, located on Congo Dam Access Road. You will see a sign on the highway directing you to Congo Dam/Chimpanzee Park and that’s where you should be turning to get on our road. Then you have 2km of dirt road going up the mountain before you reach the aforementioned steep hill. To climb the hill you will need a 4×4 vehicle (with 4 wheel drive activated!), but there is also a walking trail through the forest adjacent to the hill.
Tours take place at 10:30AM and 4PM every day, so try to arrive 15 minutes beforehand to ensure you don’t miss the tour!