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Tentative Itinerary

Special Guest – Michelle Valberg

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Chimpanzee Image: Trip traveller – Christian Modler

Get ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Accompanied by award-winning photographer, Michelle Valberg, this 7-day visit to Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) programs in the Republic of Congo is not to be missed.

This one-of-a-kind experience will give guests behind the scenes access to JGI’s world-class Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre, the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa. Closed to the general public, this is an exclusive access opportunity for Jane Goodall Institute supporters only.

In addition to visiting the sanctuary, guests will spend quality time with JGI’s Republic of Congo team, visiting local communities surrounding the Tchimpounga Reserve and witnessing Roots & Shoots education projects first-hand, learning the importance of community-centred conservation. These neighbouring villages are very important to regional conservation and JGI works closely with them to hire caregivers and EcoGuards.

Visit Local Conservation Projects

Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center

Surrounded by 129,000 acres of dense rainforest and savannah, the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center is the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa. For nearly 25 years, Tchimpounga has provided life-saving rehabilitation and protection to sick, malnourished and injured orphan chimpanzees rescued from markets and homes by local authorities in the fight against wildlife trafficking and poaching. Today, more than 140 chimpanzees live at Tchimpounga where they are given a second chance at life. One of these remarkable chimps is Wounda, who was famously filmed hugging Dr. Goodall after her release onto her new island home.

Roots & Shoots in Republic of Congo

Roots & Shoots empowers young people to address sustainability challenges in their communities. Bringing this program to communities where deforestation and poaching are ongoing threats is a crucial step in developing long-term conservation strategies. Staff at the Jane Goodall Institute in the Congo are strengthening the capacity of teachers based in nature reserves by introducing them to Roots & Shoots. JGI provides teachers with training and program resources such as community mapping materials and lesson plans. By implementing this program into their classrooms, teachers can help inspire and motivate the next generation to steward and defend the natural world.


Conkouati-Douli National Park

Conkouati-Douli National Park is a UNESCO national park along the coast of the Republic of Congo. The park is home to wild animals including chimpanzees, elephants, gorillas, leopards, and mandrills. JGI Rep. of Congo manages a Mandrill Release Program in this area, rescuing Mandrills kept as illegal pets and rehabilitating them at Tchimpounga sanctuary before releasing them into the freedom of the rainforest. JGI has successfully reintroduced several mandrills into Conkouati-Douli National Park and staff are monitoring the animals’ health on an ongoing basis.

Meet Your Photo Coach:
Michelle Valberg

With over 38 remarkable years behind the lens, Michelle has captured some of the world’s most significant moments with an unparalleled finesse that has earned her numerous accolades and esteemed positions.

As a Nikon Ambassador and Canadian Geographic Photographer-in-Residence, Michelle is a trusted name in the world of photography. Her photographs are more than images; they are moments frozen in time, infused with emotion and meaning.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions, Michelle was awarded the prestigious Order of Canada in 2022, a testament to her unwavering dedication to her craft and her commitment to making a positive impact. Among her many accolades, Michelle’s crowning achievement was winning the wildlife gold medal at the World Photographic Cup in Rome in 2022. Her ability to capture the essence of wild creatures and unimaginable landscapes is a testament to her artistry.

For this special experience, Michelle will act as a “photo coach” taking guests on a visual journey at Tchimpounga sanctuary. Before departure, Michelle will lead a Zoom class to prepare travellers, and during the trip will be there to support photo taking of chimpanzees and other wildlife. With every click, Michelle will help travellers uncover how a photograph is not just an image; it’s a glimpse into the heart of humanity and the beauty of our planet.

Fees and Inclusions

The ticket fee for this experience is $13,000 CAD and includes:

A 7-day experience with the Jane Goodall Institute visiting the Tchimpounga Sanctuary, reserve, and surrounding areas

Some meals while at the sanctuary

Park fees and one overnight stay at Tchimpounga’s adjacent island

Transportation to and from the sanctuary each day

Pre-departure administration support and photo class with Michelle Valberg

Please note: The above experience does not include flights, hotels, or most meals. Travellers will be given a list of suggested hotels to stay in but JGI Canada is not a travel agency and cannot book travel.

A significant portion of the event ticket is tax-deductible and supporters will be sent a tax-receipt after the trip as per CRA guidelines. A $2000 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot.

The natural world mirrors what we see in ourselves… our beauty, our simplicity, our complications, and our responsibilities. Nature is part of and reflects who we are. As a visual storyteller, it is my mission to educate, inspire and immerse my viewers in the beauty and wonder of planet earth.

– Michelle Valberg

Who You’ll Meet

What Stories Will You Tell?

Pictures tell a thousands words, and we know this once in a lifetime trip
will surely leave you speechless.

Inspirational Reads

Q&A With Chimp Champion – Dr. Rebeca

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work with rescued chimpanzees in a sanctuary as remarkable as Tchimpounga? Dr. Rebeca Atencia, an extraordinary and fearless leader, serves as both the head veterinarian of the sanctuary and the director of JGI Congo. Her unique perspective and profound insights into the world of these incredible creatures and their care are explored in this captivating Q&A session.

Discover the remarkable stories and experiences she has to share by reading this interview.

Image: JGI/Fernando Turmo

Canine Detection Unit: Kivuli & Ranger

In the Republic of the Congo illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest threats to wildlife and human communities. JGI’s sniffer dogs and trainers keep Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center and surrounding areas in the region safe. Canine trainers teach these dogs to sniff out dangerous/illegal objects — such as weapons or ammunition — and evidence of illegal wildlife crime—such as chimpanzee hair — in cars, bags, crates, and more.

Trainers form close bonds of trust with their canine co-workers through daily care and play, allowing them to work more effectively as a team. With the help of canines JGI is able to prevent and diminish illegal wildlife trade.

Image: JGI/US

Carbon Offsets

JGI Canada encourages travellers joining us to use carbon offsetting programs intended to promote sustainable travel and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions related to air travel.