If you’re looking for gorilla tracking and visiting the local people around the park this will be your perfect safari adventure.
Most tourists find interest to visit the unique indigenous Batwa trail after their Gorilla tracking activity to discover how the Batwa people used to live and survive on row fruits, bush meat, wild honey and then gather at their famous Garama caves just 3 kilometres from Ntebeko visitors centre. Along the trail the local guide clearly narrates the whole story of the Batwa people before eviction from the forest and many young Batwa women and boys will perform traditional beliefs such as dances to entertain visitors, fire making, and hunting techniques.
Visitors can enter inside to have a look at the ancient sitting places, rocks carvings that acted as their shelter during war times. A visit to this trail is a way of contributing to conservation of Batwa cultures which are vulnerable to extinction and proceeds have helped most of them to improve their lives, access education like never before. The other dominant people in the region are the Bafumbira and Bakiga people who are also friendly and welcoming.
The Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park allows you to experience and interact with the ancient Batwa people who once lived in these forests for close to 500,000 years. These were hunters, gatherers and fierce warriors who depended on the forest for shelter, food and medicine. When the National Park was established, the Batwa people were evicted from the forest and abandoned their low-impact, nomadic lifestyle. The only time they are permitted to re-enter their cherished forest is as tour guides on the Batwa Trail Experience, on which visitors will discover the magic of the Batwa’s ancient home while enjoying nature walks and learning about the cultural heritage. The Trail is part of a project to restore dignity and hope by keeping the Batwa Culture and Traditions alive to the Batwa people, give employment to those who are involved in the day-to-day project of the “Batwa Trail” from the dancers to the guides, pay for school fees for their children, books and beyond that buy land for the community. The Batwa Trail leads from the base of Muhavura Cave. The walk is a living museum where you can learn about the Batwa people, a pygmy tribe that used to live in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Mgahinga gorilla tracking and batwa experience – During the eviction, these people were not evicted and were forced into dropping their nomadic and bush men lifestyle. Today these are some of the poorest Ugandans, many of them earning a living from working on local farms of other people. The Batwa Trail was developed to teach visitors about the lifestyle of these people. You will learn about how these people survived in the forest.
This walk is conducted by Batwa local guides who provide insights into their traditional forest life and culture. The Batwa demonstrate their past hunting techniques, ways of gathering honey. The guides will point out the medicinal plants that were used and demonstrate how to make bamboo cups. Guests are finally invited to the sacred Ngarama Cave, once home to the Batwa King. The women of the community perform a cultural dance and you can participate in their dance.
Your participation in the Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a half day activity will not only be an informing and interesting time for you, but aid the Batwa Pygmy Community. The walk starts out with a Batwa elder dressed in skins telling the story of the Batwa creation and how they became people of the forest.
Walk along in the shadows of Mountain Muhavura also called Muhabura, meaning the guide and Gahinga Volcanoes as your guide stops and kneels down. Has he spotted an animal but he asks his God to bless the walk as the hunter of old did as they went to hunt in the forest of old.
Further down you may stop for a few berries that the hunter used to use for a meal prior to hunting. Learn the value of plants used for medicine such as blood pressure and other medical needs. The black crust of ants nests used for applying to fungal infections of the skin. You will notice them demonstrating hunting and trapping techniques, starting a fire with stick, gathering honey, the huts that they lived in and more. Most conservationists argue that their lifestyle had a low impact on the forest environment and their surroundings. However, they can no longer stay in the forest.
The Batwa Trail allows them to return to the beloved forest and show others about how they lived and potentially keep some of their ways and crafts such as making bamboo cups, clothing beyond this generation of the Batwa people.
Proceed to the Garama Cave, the residence of the King of the Batwa People. No outsider was allowed to enter though you have special permission. The cave was also used for the Batwa people to hide from their enemies. You will enter the cave if you are a bit claustrophobic and relax it will be fine. You enter down darkness embraces you and you hear mournful chants of the Batwa women mourning the loss of the beloved forest. A dim light illuminates the cave and you see them dancing with the words like tears pouring forth a most meaningful time.
Outside there are celebratory dances and music demonstrated by these Batwa people also known as the Pygmies of Uganda. Experiencing the Batwa Trail is commonly done if you are tracking Gorillas in the Nkuringo, Rushaga sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.