The Batwa Cultural Trail
The Batwa cultural trail is one of the most gratifying cultural tours in Uganda.The Batwa also known as the pygmies of Uganda are a small minority group that live in the Echuuya Forest of Mgahinga, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Semiliki National Park. For thousand of years, the Batwa lived in the dense forests of Bwindi and Semiliki and survived by hunting wild animals and gathering fruits. However, during the 1990’s they started being evicted by the colonial rulers and later the government in pursuit to gazette the respective areas into national park. they were pushed out of the national parks and forced to abandon their traditional homes and customs. They were pushed into settlement camps in the districts of Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro.
Despite the efforts of the government and other international organizations to ensure a smooth migration of the Batwa into their new settlements, there have been some challenges. For instance, the Batwa have still failed to completely cope with the modern ways of life. The Batwa had it easy while living in the forest as they had everything they needed in the forest. They only had to hunt and gather fruits. But with their new settlement, they have to face several challenges including poverty, sickness and drunkenness among others. The Bantu have to also cope with modern farming methods like bee keeping, crop farming, and animal rearing.
However, a few Batwa groups still live in the forest. Those that refused to exit the forests were put into small communities on the outskirts of Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Echuuya forest – and in Semiliki National Park.
The Batwa cultural trail is one of the most gratifying cultural tours in Uganda. The Batwa cultural trail is done in Mgahinga National Park and the Batwa cultural experience in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. the difference between the cultural trail and the cultural experience is that the cultural trail takes longer than the experience and it is within the forest. as for the Batwa experience, it takes place in the Batwa communities outside Bwindi Forest.
During the Batwa cultural trail, visitors get to trek into the forest with the Batwa as guides themselves. They will take you deep into the forests where they reside. On the trail, you will visit the Batwa grass-thatched huts and traditional homes. You will be given a demonstration of how the huts are made and maintained. You will also visit their ancient caves (the garamba caves). you will also have a glimpse of their traditional rituals, cooking styles, and their traditional knowledge of traditional medicines. The Batwa possess a unique knowledge of almost every leaf and plant when it comes to their significance towards traditional medicine. Among others, you will also explore their traditional granaries, listen to their ancient stories of their origin and enjoy their traditional dance and folk songs.
The Batwa cultural trails and cultural experience have been of great significance to the social and economic livelihoods of the Batwa communities. This has been witnessed through the proceeds received from the good will of tourism. Furthermore, the Batwa cultural trail and experience are usually part of Uganda gorilla safaris to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park. therefore, the money collected for these cultural encounters helps fund their life styles and survival in the forest.