Nestled on 236 mountainous acres, the HSUS-supported Project Chimps sanctuary is a true haven for chimpanzees retired from medical research. If you’re curious about what it takes to keep these intelligent, sensitive creatures healthy and intellectually stimulated, why not plan a visit?

Though Project Chimps calls the small town of Morganton home, the entire Blue Ridge region makes for a serene and relaxing vacation destination. The sanctuary’s manager of communications, Leslie Wade, suggests basing yourself near Blue Ridge, Georgia, where you can stroll the quaint downtown and enjoy a gourmet vegan pizza from Masseria Kitchen+Bar. Project Chimps’ executive director, Ali Crumpacker, recommends a visit to Mercier Orchards, a family-owned destination for locally grown fruit, house-made hard ciders and more. 

Hiker icon Fresh-air fun

In summer and fall, hiking, biking and rafting opportunities abound. Try the 16.5-mile-long Aska Trail System for loops of varying difficulty or visit the nearly 3,300-acre Lake Blue Ridge to camp, boat, swim and picnic. For a less strenuous excursion, book a seat on the charming Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The four-hour round-trip journey takes you on a historic rail route and includes short layovers in two small towns. 

Chimpanzee icon Primate spotting

Make your vacation meaningful by visiting Project Chimps. Only a few hours to spare? Try the two-hour Airbnb Experience, where you’ll tour the sanctuary and help make interactive toys and puzzles for the chimps. Staying longer? Check out the weeklong “volunteer vacations” or the daylong photography workshops. The sanctuary also offers private tours and hosts semi-annual adult- and kid-focused events like the popular Discovery Days. 

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From our magazine

This story originally appeared in our award-winning magazine for members, All Animals. Get informative and inspiring content like this delivered right to your door.

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All Animals magazine March/April/May 2020 cover image