The Batwa trail experience can be done in both Bwindi and Mgahinga national park in Uganda, the Batwa people are also commonly known as Pygmies are an endangered group of people believed to have migrated from the Ituri forests in Congo in search of wildlife to hunt hence the name the district they settle in Kisoro to mean “Place of wildlife”.
The first record of the Pygmies was made by the Egyptians 4000 years ago describing them as “Dancers of the gods” they described them as short stature people who lived near the famous “mountains of the moon”.
The Batwa who were hunter-gatherers were the first inhabitants of the Virunga and great lakes region, they believe that when their creator was creating he gave some people different gifts others good land, others height and he gave the Batwa people the rainforests.
Batwa people lived in this rainforests for over 500,000 years living in harmony with nature depending on the forests for medicine, shelter, food, and shade. The co-existed with mountain gorillas and loved the forest with passion.
There was no charcoal burning, deforestation, bush burning and so much more. The eviction of Batwa from the forests in 1991 was not good because they were not even compensated land nor money living the indigenous people without any way of life.
The Batwa people were left with no option but to work in farms of the surrounding communities every day under the scorching sun with an unfair wage. They cannot preserve even their own cultures as they used to do in the rainforests in the ancient days.
Today, there are less than 3000 Batwa people left in the world, they created trails in which they can teach children about their ancient culture and the rest of the world how they used to live in the ancient forests.
The Batwa people were almost getting extinct by the year 2002 but Dr. Scott and Carol Kellermann the American missionaries were of great rescue when they came in and bought land, built houses, schools, and hospitals that have improved the lives of the Batwa people.
Batwa Trail in Bwindi
The Batwa experience in Bwindi impenetrable national park takes you on a nature walk then hike to the forest with a Batwa guide who will show you how they used to hunt from how they used different traps for hunting.
You can also visit a Batwa traditional homestead and learn how women prepare local food, weave baskets, get entertained with traditional dances and songs and hear the ancient stories if the forests and myths.
Batwa Experience in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The trail in Mgahinga starts at Muhavura caves by the Batwa guides and normally starts with a prayer to the gods to guide them through the forest, the guide will take you through how they used to live in the forest by showcasing traditional herbs, show how grass thatched houses are constructed, honey gathering tricks, hunting skills and so much more.
The Batwa in Mgahinga like in Bwindi will engage in various cultural activities like bamboo cup demonstrations visit a traditional healer and learn about medicinal plants the visit at Mgahinga ends at the Garama cave which was once the Batwa kings cave, a cultural dance is always performed in the cave.
Most visitors who encounter the Batwa trail never miss going for gorilla trekking which is the common tourists’ activity in Bwindi and Mgahinga national park.
The Batwa people used to live in great harmony with mountain gorillas who share 98% DNA with humans making them close relatives, there are only less than 1000 mountain gorillas left in the world and this makes them endangered.
Bwindi and Mgahinga provide opportunities for spending one hour with gorillas at only $600 and $1500 for gorilla habituation experience where you spend 4 hours with researchers and scientists in the presence of mountain gorillas.
Golden monkeys are also an endangered species of monkeys that are endemic to the Virunga region, the highest concentration is in Mgahinga national park in Uganda numbering to about 3000-4000.
Golden monkey trekking is not so hectic like gorilla trekking because they live in lower slopes than gorillas and the price for trekking is also less costly. Golden monkeys are known for their entertaining behaviors and beauty, they also love to be taken photos with flashlight cameras, unlike gorillas.
The Batwa trail can be visited all year round but if you are intending to combine the Batwa trail experience with gorilla trekking, then the best season for visiting is from June to August and December to February. Gorilla trekking permits should be obtained in advance of about 3 months before the actual day of trekking.