The Batwa trail is an activity combined with gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park. This is an activity a tourist should not miss out while in Mgahinga for gorilla trekking. This community encounter gives tourists a chance to interact with the Batwa people. Who were initially referred to as the Keepers of the forest.
The Batwa people live in the high mountain forests. They are the original dwellers of the ancient jungle. The history of these small stature group is long and rich. They survive by hunting using nets or arrows for gathering plants and fruits in the rainy forests of Mgahinga. The Batwa people lived in harmony with the forest and its creatures including the mountain gorillas.
The Batwa people who depended on the dense forests of Mgahinga; for shelter, food and medicine where dispersed by the government and rehabilitated in the villages that surround the park. They were forced out of the forests because due to the creation of Mgahinga National Park.
The main aim of the Batwa trail is to teach tourists or visitors about the lifestyle of these people. You will get to know how these people survived in the forests. After their eviction, they were forced to drop their nomadic lifestyle and today they are the poorest Ugandans. Some Batwa’s survive by working on local farms of other people.
The walk is guided by the Batwa guides. These provide insights about their forest life and culture. During this activity, the Batwa people demonstratethe following; past hunting skills, how they used to gather food and honey, point out the medicinal plants that were used to treat diseases. The Batwa women also perform cultural dances. The tourists also visit the sacred Ngarama Cave once a home of the Batwa king.
On the 7th June 2011, the government of Uganda launched the Batwa cultural trail as a way of merging conservation with cultural development. This has created job opportunities to the Batwa people who engage in the day-to-day activities like dancers and guides. The interesting activity is usually carried out after gorilla trekking in the Mgahinga dense forests. As a visitor, you will miss a lot of cultural experience if you left Uganda without engaging in the Batwa trail which involves visiting the original grass -thatched huts and how they are made.
The Batwa trail starts by the guide stopping and kneeling at a certain hut to pray to the gods to bless their walk. The spot is believed to be a place where the men in the ancient days used to kneel and pray to the gods before they venture in the forest. Therefore, before the trail the guides make sure they stop and pray to their gods for a blessed walk.
As you thrive through the dense forests, you will stop to pick some berries that the hunters used to eat during the ancient days as food before hunting. As you continue with the walk, you will learn the different medicinal plants and roots the Batwas used to stop bleeding after child delivery, malaria, blood pressure and other diseases. It should be noted that the trail is a celebration of the former forest culture of the “first people”. However, their life style has tremendously changed since they were dispersed from the forest for the creation of the parks. Currently some of the Batwa people live in permanent houses and some go to school and no longer depend on the forest for shelter and everything because some are even employed to earn a living.
The Batwa trail costs $ 80 per person. This money is used by the Uganda wildlife Authority to support Batwa development projects. Part of the money is paid to guides to help them support their families and the other percentage goes to construction of schools and hospitals.
In summary, the incredible trail across the Mgahinga national park through the foot hills of mount Gahinga and mount Muhavura. These are worthy visiting to learn how the keepers of the forest depended on the forest and shared the forest with our closest cousins the gorillas. Other activities include bird watching, hiking and gorilla trekking. Your visit to Uganda will give you lifetime memories. Contact Ganyana safaris for your incredible Batwa trail in Uganda.