Batwa Trail Experience in Mgahinga.
Batwa people were hunters and gatherers who depended most on forests as their shelter, bush meat as food and tree leaves as medicine. These people migrated from Ituri forest reserve of Democratic Republic of Congo.
Part of the group settled in Rwanda near Volcanoes National Park and others occupied area in the western wing of Uganda.
After establishment of some Parks like Mgahinga, Bwindi and more, the Batwa were ordered to vacate all areas occupied by the Parks, this was meant to limit them from hunting the Wild animals.
With interest of improving the living standards of the Batwa people, UOBDU in partnership with USAID and UWA, started the Batwa trail project. Some of these people were allowed to re-enter into the forests as guides on the Batwa trail experience.
This excursion was established mainly to let tourists or visitors to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park soak up all history and past life of the Batwa people.
Batwa trail experience is only offered in Mgahinga National Park and a bit different from the Batwa community visit in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
This experience includes a walk around the local communities, traditional performances including singing and dancing. Later visit the Garama caves; this was the main home for these people in the past.
It takes about 5-6 hours and it is being led by the Batwa guides. While at the caves, the guide will kneel down and request the spirits to keep everyone in place safe. These people also practiced it in the past when they were heading for the hunting sessions.
As you continue with the Journey, the guide will go on introducing you to different plant species; you will come to know that almost every plant is of importance to human life. They will show you the unique leaves you can use to cure pressure, diabetes and fever.
More than that, you will be taken through the processes how the Batwa used to prepare their dishes, make fire, harvest honey and as well construct temporary huts. You will also the process of making local products like cups made out of bamboo.
The experience will end at the Garama caves the king’s house and main food store. During wars, these caves were used as the main hiding points. After the caves, expect to be entertained by the Batwa people with cultural dances and singing.
The experience costs $80 USD per person, this money helps in funding different projects run in the local communities and as well pay some fees to the guides, entertainers and other staff who run the project.