Batwa Cultural Experience

August 29, 2023 | Bujo Safaris

The batwa people also known as the TWA people are the African endemic pygmies who stayed and lived in Mgahinga and Bwindi national parks before they were being set aside as national parks and these are known as the keepers of these forests. These people are like other pygmies and they have an average height of about 1.5 m.

The Batwa people have lived and existed for more than 60,000 years in these forests and are some of the poorest people whose lives depend on fruit gathering and hunting using bows and arrows. Regardless of everything, these people decided to keep and protect the rainforests without practicing deforestation. 

THE BATWA PEOPLE IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Bwindi national park not only gives you a gorilla experience but also gives you a chance to learn about these people since they are regarded as the first dwellers of this forest even before it was gazetted as a national park. The unfortunate part of it is that the Batwa no longer stay in this forest because they were transferred by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme after being accused of poaching the gorillas as well as cutting down the trees. However the Batwa people had protected the forests without practicing any form of deforestation or hunting the endangered gorillas. 

During this encounter, you are able to learn about the daily life of the Batwa. This includes their culture, hunting the tiny animals, preparing local food, building their houses with grass and visiting some of their caves, all exposing you to a new world and enlightening your knowledge. Get a chance to taste their local food, listen to their stories, watch the traditional dances and you can as well feel free to participate as a sign of unity and love shown to them, learn hunting skills on how to use an arrow and a bow all giving you unforgettable memories.

THE BATWA CULTURAL EXPERIENCE IN MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK

This cultural experience introduces you to the ancient people who stayed in this forest years ago before any ethnic group was introduced and before this place was protected and conserved as a national park. The Batwa cultural experience in Mgahinga national park takes you on a journey back into the old ways of the Batwa tribe, the first people who inhabited these forests. These people lived as hunters, fruit gatherers who protected this forest and the territories with their hearts without poaching on the wildlife and without practicing deforestation. As we speak, the Batwa people stay in the outskirts of the forest where they have learnt new ways of living like adapting to the new agriculture skills and cattle rearing leaving the ancient cultural ways of doing things.

The Batwa trails in Mgahinga teach you the history and the cultures of the old people. It exposes you to the traditional forest life among other things. Before embarking on this trail, you are requested to kneel before a certain god to pray for blessing and then continue the journey. You are able to learn about different things like the diseases such as blood pressure, malaria, fungal infections, plants and the fruits that these people used to feed on as food and other ways of how they used to live their daily life. 

These people will show their hunting skills and techniques of honey and fruit gathering, you shall be able to visit the archaic grass thatched huts and see how they were built out of grass and maintained without losing shape. Don’t forget that the Batwa women will show off some of the family rites of cooking and family care plus a traditional dance performance which you can feel free to join and participate in.

This Batwa trail in Mgahinga national park takes about 4 hours of learning about the old traditional culture. 

The Batwa trails in Mgahinga will also lead you to the shelter cave known as the Ngarama cave where the king used to hold his meetings with the elders and where women and children hid during the times of battle and war. The cave always had water and the fires were lit to lighten up the area in case some people sought safety and protection in them. 

While here, you will hear songs and voices of women in the dark singing about the loss of their ancient home which was turned into the present Mgahinga gorilla national park. 

Some of the other activities that can be done are gorilla trekking and habituation, day hikes which consist of volcanic climbs, nature walks, bird watching, golden monkey trekking among others. 

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