Explore the Batwa in Uganda and their community heritage

The Batwa trail in Mgahinga and Batwa culture experience in Bwindi Impenetrable national park

The Batwa Pygmies Cultural Trail And Experience

Are you looking for Batwa pygmies cultural trail and experience or exploring the Batwa in Uganda and their community heritage? During the early 1930’s and in the 90’s, the major eviction of Batwa group of people was carried out in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga forest national park. For many years, the Batwa lived peacefully in the dense forests found in these parks and they used to survive by hunting and fruit gathering. The colonial rule by the British people marked the end of stay of Batwa Pygmies on the forest and this was because the colonial rulers and the government of Uganda considered them to be poachers and there was an argent need to Bwindi forest and Mgahinga but most importantly the are endangered mountain gorillas. The Batwa group of people were forced to leave their cultural heritage, customs and the way of life to live in camps and settlements outside the parks in the districts of Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro.

Things haven’t gone as planned by the government, international and local organizations to help and ensure a smooth transactions into their new settlements. The Batwa haven’t adapted 100% to their new way of life and settlements. They are still dealing with new diseases, poverty and drunkenness which is something new that they are have never experienced because the forest used to provide everything for them. While in the forest, they would always go hunting, harvest honey and gather some fruits. Now they have resorted to bee keeping and other farming methods for a living which they find hard considering the rudimentary methods used. They have to dig and plant their own foods such as fruits, vegetables and some people have cut and burnt down trees for charcoal and firewood. They carry some items to the market for sale.

The Batwa have hard challenges too. They now have to learn how to live with neighboring people they had avoided for years. The Batwa face discrimination from their neighbors because of their different way of life. They have been ignored by their neighbors who see them as encroachers in their area. Some of the Batwa still poach animals such as antelopes while others are beggars.

The neglect, extreme poverty, hunger and high mortality which had led to a reduction in number of Batwa with about 3,000 people, this has caught attention of attention of so many international and local organizations. Dr scot Kellerman and carol Kellerman were the forest foreign tourists starting with projects on water, sanitization and promoting human rights of the Batwa Pygmies. This family lived with in the Batwa people and founded the Kellerman foundation working together with the Batwa people and the Batwa development program to construct hospitals, schools and the foundation carries out community development activities aimed at improving the wellbeing of Batwa people.

In 2002, another organization called the united organization for Batwa development was formed to help and do supporting activities that can help in income generating, forest access, land housing, benefit sharing, education and adult literacy.

The Batwa trail in Mgahinga and Batwa culture experience in Bwindi Impenetrable national park

One of the experimental initiatives by organizations that support Batwa and the government of Uganda is that the Batwa trail is done only in Mgahinga gorilla national park and the Batwa cultural experience is done in Bwindi forest. The recent initiative by united organization for Batwa development in collaboration with UWA and the United States agency for international development aims at empowering the Batwa Pygmies socially and economically through profits from local people. The Batwa trail gives on of the best community in the country.

What is the Batwa people trail and culture all about?

It’s an experience organized by tourists interested in understanding the way of life and the history of the Batwa people during their days in the forest. By the end of the Batwa trail activity, tourists will know why the Batwa have failed to adopt the way of life of people outside the forest. The Batwa trail is done from Mgahinga gorilla national park and it’s different from Batwa cultural visits done in Bwindi impenetrable national park because it’s a long experience which happens with in Mgahinga national park. Batwa cultural experience in Bwindi national park is done with in the Batwa residing outside the park’s forest. The trail takes about 5 hours and it’s led by the Batwa people themselves and this begins after a guide from Batwa Pygmies knees down to beg the spirits to keep everyone safe during the whole journey. The earliest practice made sure that hunting sessions are blessed and successful. After the spirit prayers the guide leads you through the forest and also on the slopes of Virunga Mountains such as Gahinga and Muhavura.

While following the guide, you will realize that every plant and weed is of an importance to the Batwa people. The guide can sometimes pluck off leaves from trees and tell you the importance and how they are used. There tree leaves in the forest to deal with pressure, fever, cold flue as well as diabetes. These leaves are usually first crushed and chewed sometimes direct from the mouth. Apart from medicine you get to learn how these people make traditional dishes, build huts, harvest money and make fire. The Batwa were good artists with amazing products such as cups made out of bamboo.

On your trail, the Batwa Pygmies will tell to you stories that will tell you more about their history and life in the forest. Batwa experience ends with an exploration of Garamba caves. These caves are dark and quite ancient caves with a great significance to the pygmies. These caves were used by Batwa during wars as meeting and hiding places. After visiting these caves you will end up this activity by witnessing a traditional dance performance from Batwa women and men

Batwa trail in Mgahinga Gorilla Park and the Batwa cultural visit in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have led to the well-being of the Batwa community socially and economically. Allowing Batwa guides back in the forest as tour guides makes them feel like the forest belongs to them. Money from tourists in the community helps them supplement their incomes hence improving the well-being of their families.

Things to consider before going for the Batwa cultural trail in Mgahinga

Level of difficulty: The Batwa trail is not a hard one this is because the trails are well defined. There are few steep areas most especially around the foots of mountains and this is manageable for anyone fit. Those with luggage can hire porter for USD 15.

Cost of Batwa trail: The Batwa experience in Mgahinga costs USD 80 for a lone traveler but those who move in groups pay less. 2 foreign nonresidents pay USD 70 and a group of 4 or more people pay USD 60. Those who would want to record a documentary pay additional USD400.

What to wear: while planning to do the Batwa cultural tour, you should consider what to wear. You should move within a rainy jacket, garden gloves, long sleeved clothes which will protect you from rain and sharp plants in the forest. Its also advised to carry packed lunch and drinks, camera and insect repellants.

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