Batwa Trail

Batwa Trail experience is a lifetime experience whereby a traveler gets to take off some time to go to the community and visit the ancient tribe of the Batwa people and get to connect with them as they observe their behaviors, ways of living and experience amazing cultural activities like dances, folk tales, and many others.

Batwa Trail

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a renowned destination for gorilla trekking, but, a visit to the Batwa trail of bwindi impenetrable national park should not be a miss for your mountain gorilla safari to East Africa. The Batwa trails are activities done, especially, after the mountain gorilla tour and the experience is worth the time spent or the extra day after the mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Batwa trail experience explains a lot about the history behind Bwindi forest. The Batwa people were the first people to live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and the Batwa people are also famously called the Batwa pygmies. 

From the many stories, the Batwa people faced a lot of tragedy a few years back as propaganda spread that sleeping with one of the pygmies could cure HIV/AIDS. During this time a lot of pygmies suffered and many died since they were primitive with no knowledge about how they could survive. This is the major factor that led to a severe reduction in the population of the Batwa people. Despite all the turmoil that the twa community has faced, from being chased out of the forests in 1991 and the HIV/AIDS, the Batwa people have managed to survive all.

What is the Batwa trail?

Batwa trail” is the name given to the forest hike passages that lead you to the Batwa communities and homesteads. The Batwa trails do an awesome part of bringing you close to this ancient lifestyle of the African people, who co-existed mutually with the wildlife in the dense jungles of African many years ago. Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla national park have been the habitat for the Batwa pygmies many years before the introduction of mountain gorilla trekking tourism, and before the area was gazetted as a conservation area. Though done for a short time, the Batwa trails in Bwindi are related to the Batwa cultural trail in Mgahinga gorilla national park in which travelers spend the whole day experiencing the Batwa’s traditional forest life.

As part and partial of the rehabilitation and cultural conservation of the Batwa people, in harmony with tourism, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, governing body of the national parks and protected areas in uganda, with the aid from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), together with the Netherlands’s Embassy initiated the famous or, now, popular Batwa trail. The initiation of the Batwa trail was, and is still, one way through which the Twa people are sustained in harmony with their ancestry or cultural roots, plus preserving of the authenticity of the African culture, by freely sharing the cultural richness and authenticity plus history with the tourists to Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Who are the Batwa people?

As mentioned earlier, the Batwa people are the famously known congo pygmies. The Twa” or Batwa people, as they are sometimes called, are a minority ethnic group found in the Virunga conservation area of Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo within the dense forests. The Batwa people are also known as the oldest inhabitants in the areas of bwindi impenetrable national park and mgahinga national park.  

Despite the development ongoing in the world and the wide-spreading civilization, the Batwa people have remained primitive and clingy to their tradition and culture. The Batwa people have lived and hunted and gathered fruits from the thick forests of Africa until today. The forests of bwindi impenetrable national park and the congo forests have provided everything the Batwa people needed to survive in the wild. However, the introduction of mountain gorilla safaris in early 1991, later on, pushed the Batwa pygmies out of the bwindi impenetrable forest; this was when bwindi and Virunga National Park were gazetted for the protection of the endangered mountain gorillas. 

What to expect

There is a lot to expect during the Batwa trail forest hiking tour, expect to encounter one of the shortest grown humans of the world; the Batwa people are very short indigenous. Despite the height of the Batwa people, from their eyes, you will witness true love for their forests, habitats. When the Batwa people are narrating about their eviction from the forest, you can realize the great love they had and still have for the jungle. 

Through the forest, reaching the Batwa community, the visitors to the Batwa homesteads are given a chance to engage and participate in traditional activities of the twa pygmies, like preparing food, and also learn a lot of skills like making bush fire, hunting techniques, making bamboo cups and learning the traditional Batwa dances among others. Almost all of the Batwa activities are demonstrated outdoor or outside within the forest but in an open place, however, most of the forest life tactics of the Batwa people are demonstrated within or inside the forest, such as hunting and fruit gathering.

The Batwa people will teach you or demonstrate for you some of the useful medicinal tree values and many other different herbs with in the forest. You can also escort the Batwa hunters into the forest where you can learn bee honey harvesting skills, water fetching using bamboo tubes, making fire by rubbing dry sticks, hunting tactics, and hut construction styles among others.

When you reach the communities of the Batwa, the women of the community can perform very touchy and sorrowful folk songs. These performances are done with in the garama cave in mgahinga national park; echoes of the remorseful songs by the twa women circulate in and around the depths of the dark cave. This is an unforgettable experience and leaves guests with a stroked and moved by the sense of this rich authentic, but, fading culture.

You can as well take coffee or tea from one of the coffee shops of the batwa; the coffee shops were started by the batwa as a way to survive after being chased away from the forest. You and your friends can choose to take some coffee accompanied by the stories from the batwa people. You can also support the batwa communities by buying some of their products; women make craft products such as baskets, hats, handbags, beads, and mats among others. 

To note; travelers to the batwa communities are encouraged to buy the crafts and other of these products made by the batwa people. In so doing, you indirectly support many families of these less developed batwa people in bwindi and mgahinga national park. Most important, you should get an interaction with the batwa as it offers a great opportunity to you to learn more and understand the in-depth culture of their ancient forest life and their co-existence with wild animals, mutually.

Batwa Trail
Batwa Trail

In synopsis, the batwa trail tour is either done in bwindi impenetrable park; the batwa people in Bwindi impenetrable national park are found outside the forest near, almost, all the mountain gorilla trekking sections like Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, and Rushaga among others, or Mgahinga National Park where you can get a chance to see the garama pygmy cave. The batwa trail forest hikes are mainly done after the mountain gorilla trekking in bwindi impenetrable national park and mgahinga national park. you can tell your tour operator to always add the batwa trail on to your itinerary, and remember that visiting the batwa community is one of the most charitable things you can do in Africa: to save these poor indigenous people to continue surviving.

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