Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was home to Batwa pygmies. These indigenous people were the original dwellers of the ancient forest and were known as the “keepers of the forest”. The Batwa lived in harmony with the forest and survived by hunting small game using bows and arrows and gathering plants for both food and medicinal purposes. The Batwa cultural experience is one of the highlights as far as cultural and community experiences go. It is among the top things you can see and do in Uganda. This is because of their rich culture which has managed to stay unaltered by outside influences – over so many generations.
In 1992, the lives of the Batwa changed forever, when the forest became a National Park and world heritage site in order to protect the endangered mountain gorillas that reside within its boundaries. The Batwa were evicted from the Park and became conservation refugees in a world that was very unfamiliar to them. Their skills and means of subsistence were not useful in this modern environment and they began to suffer from various lifestyle adjustments.
Hike in the forest with the people of the forest. You will have a Batwa guide and he will provide you with the chance to see the forest and its habitats through their eyes. See how they lived and hunted in the traditional manner. Enjoy trying out your hunting techniques as the Batwa teach you how to shoot with a bow and arrow.
Visit a traditional Batwa homestead and learn from the women how to prepare, cook and serve a meal. You will also have the opportunity it sample the dishes and they would freely roam all over the forest for honey, wild yams, fruits, firewood as well as hunting down small animals on which they survived.
Batwa trails in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park are different from the Batwa trail in Mgahinga gorilla national park but both experiences reward you with a memorable experience.
Talk to a medicine man and learn about the medicinal properties of the forest’s flora. The Batwa were evicted to the forest edges. The Batwa community walks in Bwindi take you to Batwa local communities where you learn more about their forest life. It’s not just a conventional nature walk but an in-depth interaction which increases an understanding of who the Batwa are. You may meet some small groups of Batwa during gorilla trekking but a walkout to their homes is an amazing experience.
Batwa community trails are usually done after or before gorilla tour but the experience is worth doing. These Batwa trails lead you to the Batwa communities and into their homes bringing you close to these ancient people who for thousands of years co-existed with wild animals in the forests of Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla national park before the introduction of gorilla tourism and conservation.
Though done for a short time, the Batwa trails in Bwindi Forest National Park are related to the Batwa cultural trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in which travellers spend the whole day enjoying the Batwa Culture Experience.