The Batwa are an indigenous kind of group that inhabits in the tropical rain forests of Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks in south western Uganda. They are believed to be hunters and gatherers as their culture since they are people of the forest.
Both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National park were gazetted in 1991 as National parks to protect and conserve the mountain gorillas, the Batwa people were evicted from the premises of the parks without being compensated and were left landless which led to their death hence reducing their numbers. Later an American organization came in to rescue the Batwa that had remained, they bought for them land were they settled, constructed hospitals, schools which improved their standards compared to how they were in the last years.
The Bantu people settled in the forests after the eviction of the batwa which helped the batwa to work on the farms and gardens of the Bantu to get food like bananas, sweet potatoes, beans, fruits among others since hunting was no longer the major source of income. They also act as local tour guides and potters for the tourists who come for the cultural experiences of the Batwa in Bwindi Impenetrable National park and Batwa trail in Mgahinga National park.
The Batwa trail in Mgahinga National park.
The Batwa trail was established in 2001 as a way of remembering and promoting the ancient Batwa culture which is considered to be a tourist activity today. Batwa trail is a walk through the thick forests of Mgahinga National park guided by the batwa people and sharing about their previous life style while in the forests. Batwa trail is only found in Mgahinga National park done alongside gorilla trekking and golden monkey trekking. The Batwa people are unique people that first lived in the forests before they were gazetted in National parks in 1991.
The Batwa trail in Mgahinga National park is started by prayer normally led by the Batwa elders to the ancestors of the forest for guidance and protection as they pass through the forest. The trail goes up to the bottom of mount Gahinga, mount Muhavura and mount Sabinyo of the Virunga ranges where their ancestral cave known as Ngarama cave is found. The offices of the Batwa elders would sit in the Ngarama cave where they would plan for their people. The Batwa women during the trail sing some sorrowful songs about their ancient culture which would live al people in misery states.
During the times of the trail, the visitors or tourists are taught different activities of the Batwa people like hunting, gathering, harvesting honey, hand craft making, making fire, making medicine from herbs among others.
Experience the Batwa On Your Gorilla Safari
If you a cultural enthusiast and you are interested in the most thrilling African cultural experiences then Uganda’s Batwa cultural trail is worth exploring while you are on safari in Africa this coming holiday. In case of any plans to embark on Uganda gorilla safari to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, it is such incredible and life changing experience that you shouldn’t miss to be part. A Batwa cultural walk means a great opportunity for you to discover the rich history and culture of the Batwa pygmies who lived in the forest for the past years as hunters and fruit gatherers. Ideally, the forest was undoubtedly their treasure but due to need to conserve the area, they were displaced and today they are the marginalized group around Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Why Go on the Batwa Trail?
A cultural walk to the Batwa community while on Uganda cultural safari means an incredible chance for you to indulge yourself into their thrilling dances, music performances and also learn more about their lifestyles, traditions and most importantly, have amazing time as they demonstrate their hunting and gathering techniques. They depended on the forest for many things including food, medicine and shelter.
While here, you will also be led through the sacred Ngarama cave which previously served as refuge to their king and it is here that you will find women singing sorrowfully but at end of it all, get you the best of thrilling experience. Most importantly, there are guides to take you through both long and short trails experience more about the life of these incredible group of people. They will interpret for you different herbs that are of medicinal importance and a number of things that won’t leave you bored.
The Batwa trail was established mainly to help educate their children and also as one way to share their heritage and traditions with the world travelers. They have lived out of their original home the ‘forest’ from 1992 up to date. Despite this, they have never forgotten their ancient ways of doing things. Today, the United Organization for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) has come up to promote the Batwa rights and also help provide them with land, education and health care.
In summary, for any plans to visit Bwindi or Mgahinga national park to trek mountain gorillas, embarking on a Batwa trail should be a must and you will have the best of unforgettable cultural experiences in Africa.