The Batwa People
The batwa people are an indigenous group of people that leave in western Uganda and are believed to be hunter-gatherers and stick to their culture. The Batwa trail and the Batwa experience are two different activities and take place in different locations all with the involvement of the Batwa people who are the ancient forest dwellers that lived in peace and harmony with the mighty mountain Gorillas in the wilderness. Important to note is that wherever there are Gorillas in Uganda, also are the Batwa and a mountain gorilla safari can be combined with either the Batwa trail in Mgahinga national park or with the Batwa cultural experience in Bwindi impenetrable national park. All the two parks were established in 1991 in order to preserve the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
After the establishment of Mgahinga National park and Bwindi impenetrable national park in 1991, Batwa were evicted from their land without any compensation leaving them landless and at that time the Batwa tribe reduced drastically and lucky enough in 2001, good Samaritans from America intervened and came in to rescue the lives of the remaining Batwa by purchasing the land for them, constructing the healthy facilities, the schools, and may more that saved the lives of these Batwa people.
The only way these Batwa people can obtain food is through working for on other people’s farms as farmers and the only way they return to the forest is through acting as local tour guides and potters at the park for the tourists who wish to do the Batwa trail.
The Batwa Trail in Mgahinga National park
The Batwa trail was established in June 2011 as the way of promoting and commemorating the ancient Batwa culture and up to date it’s being considered as the tourist activity which is normally done alongside gorilla trekking and golden monkey tracking in Mgahinga national park attracting several visitors worldwide to learn about the ancient lifestyle of these unique Batwa people. Batwa were the forest dwellers before the forest was gazetted into a national park in 1991 and would obtain anything they want just from the forest including shelter from the backcloth, medicine from the plants which is still being used today to heal several infections, food through hunting the forest mammals, then set up fire by friction to roast the meat obtained through hunting and gathering the raw honey and fruits.
The Batwa trail is referred to as the walk deep into the thick forest with the Batwa people guides as they elaborate about their previous lifestyle in the forest.
The Batwa trail is done only in Mgahinga national park in Uganda and it always begins with a pray led by the Batwa elders as they seek guidance from their forest ancestors before they penetrate through it. This trail leads the visitors alongside the Batwa guides to the bottom of mount Muhavura, mount Gahinga and mount Sabyinyo which are three out of the eight Virunga volcanoes and proceed deep into the forest where they had their ancestral cave known as the Ngarama Cave. These caves are known as the offices where the Batwa leaders would sit and plan for their people. During the trial, the Batwa women sing some sorrowful songs on these caves about their ancient culture and the echo is heard reflecting from deep down inside the ngarama caves that leave everyone around in agony.
During the Batwa trail, visitors are taught several activities such as how to hunt using the bow and arrow, how to harvest wild honey, how to make and set up fire by friction, how to treat some infections such as fungal diseases using the local herbs and many more that is worth experiencing.
Where to sleep during the Batwa trail
There are several accommodations inside Mgahinga national park and around the park that offers the best comfort of the visitors interested in enjoying the Batwa trail. These lodges range from luxury lodges, midrange lodges and budget lodges which include mount Gahinga lodge being the best Luxury lodge and strategically located in close vicinity with in the park that creates a view of the volcanoes and also makes it comfortable for the visitors to catch up with all the activities in the park. This lodge has the best facilities such as the laundry, open fireplaces, solar power , bar and restaurant among others that make it the best luxury lodge to chill in during visit to Mgahinga national park . Other lodges include the Mucha Hotel and Travelers’ Rest hotel for Midrange visitors, Amajambere Iwacu Community camp and Kisoro tourist hotel for budget visitors and many more lodges with good facilities
What else can I do alongside the Batwa Trail?
Several visitors on Mgahinga national park safari always combines the Batwa trail with the golden monkey tracking and the mighty gorilla trekking. “Check out our 4 days mountain gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking and the Batwa trail in Mgahinga national park safari from kampala or 3 days Mgahinga gorilla trekking from Kigali”
However, since Mgahinga lies in a forest, birders also have a greater opportunity of watching several bird species alongside other activities. And for the visitor who wishes to have the best entertainment from the Batwa, then look no further than visiting Bwindi impenetrable national park for the cultural dance full of passionate love.
The Batwa cultural experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The Batwa cultural experience was put in place by the Batwa’s leaders mainly to express and teach their cultural norms and tradition to their children but with time this experience started attracting several visitors from all over the world to experience the tradition of these endangered Batwa tribe who were evacuated from their original homeland in the forest and left to live as refugees near the park. During the Batwa cultural experience in Bwindi impenetrable national park, visitors specifically meet with the Batwa people, interact with them as they narrate about their past life in the forest, how they used to survive from the strange wild animals, how they obtained their food and shelter unlike the trail where the visitors have to really go deep in the forest and witness everything practically which is done in Mgahinga national park. During the Batwa cultural experience, visitors visit the Batwa’s homestead where the Batwa people welcome them with the best traditional dance and drama, singing the conservation song and storytelling. And windup the cultural experience by visiting the traditional healers who use the plants and their ancestors to heal the sick.
What else can I do alongside Batwa cultural experience in Bwindi?
Bwindi impenetrable national park harbors almost a half of the still existing mountain gorillas in the world, thus the Batwa experience can be done alongside Gorilla trekking or gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi impenetrable national park. Check out our 3 days Bwindi for the best experience of the Gorilla trekking safari and visiting the Batwa for the best traditional dance and drama.
When is the best season for the Batwa trail and Batwa Cultural Experience?
Like any other park in Uganda, Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable national park can be visited at any time throughout the year. However, the best seasons are always the dry months of January, February, March, June, July, August, September, October and December when the trails are less muddy and easy to penetrate through the forest since the trail is always joined with the Gorilla trekking and the best trekking months are also during the dry season.