The Batwa people – Uganda cultural tours
The Batwa people : A cultural tour in Uganda can never be complete minus a visit to any of the Batwa communities located in the Southwestern part of the country. Uganda is a country richly blessed with a diverse cultural base. The Batwa people, who are commonly known as pygmies, are one of the minority cultural groups in the world today. They are famous for their short stature and can be found living in areas around the Great Lakes Regions, which include Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Batwa people are referred to by different names depending on the areas in which they live for instance; they are referred as the ‘Twa’ in Rwanda, ‘Barhwa or Bambuti’ in Congo, ‘Abaterambere’ in Burundi, and ‘Batwa or Abayanda’ in Uganda. They are believed to have migrated from the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Batwa, especially those in Uganda where formerly hunter-gatherers with strong ancestral ties to the forests in which they lived. However, over time the Batwa lost their homes and means of livelihood as the forests in which they lived were gazetted as forest reserves and national parks.
Currently, the Batwa people in Uganda can be found inhabiting the areas of Southwestern Uganda, mainly around the Echuya Forest Reserve in the districts of Kisoro and Kabale. They live in small mud huts made of sticks and grass. They comprise about 5% of the total population in Uganda, with their population estimated to be around 3500 individuals.
The Batwa people solely depended on the forest for survival. Following the establishment of Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga Gorilla and Semuliki National Parks, the Batwa people had to leave their homes in the forests and find settlements outside these national parks. As a result of the establishment of the national parks, their way of life also changed, with the Batwa adopting other means of livelihood such as farming, cattle keeping, and even entertaining people.
Their knowledge of the forest is so vast that it can be seen in their hunting skills, tracking methods, and herbal medicines among others. They are social people despite the misconception that other cultures have of them. They are very hospitable and welcome guests with joyful hugs, warm smiles and cheerful songs and dances. Today, the Batwa people act as local guides to tourists who visit the national parks and wish to explore the forests during the Batwa Trail Experience.
The Batwa Trail Experience in Uganda.
The Batwa Trail Experience is a unique activity that gives visitors an insight into the ancient ways of the Batwa People when they entirely depended on the forest for their livelihood. The activity involves tourists hiking through designated trails in the forest that only the Batwa guides know, a short display of their hunting techniques, and how local medicinal herbs are made and what they can treat. The Batwa Trail was first established as a tourism product in June 2011 by the . The trail experience can be done by visitors in Mgahinga national park, Semuliki national park and the Rushaga sector in Bwindi Impenetrable national park. The Batwa trail experience can be combined with other activities like gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, birding, guided nature walk, and the Swamp Hike in Semuliki national park. Visitors who are interested in taking part in the Batwa Trail Experience can do so at a fee of USD 80 dollars in Mgahinga national park, USD 10 in Semliki national park, and USD 40 in Rushaga, Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
The Batwa Cultural Experience in Uganda.
Visitors who wish to have a deep understanding of the Batwa people can opt for the Batwa cultural experience. The cultural experience gives visitors an opportunity to visit local Batwa homesteads and interact with the local Batwa people. During a visit to the nearby Batwa communities, visitors get to see the day to day lifestyles of the Batwa, listen to folk tales, song and watch dance performances from the local Batwa dance groups. While at it, feel free to join in on the joyful dances with the locals. The activity also involves visitors learning how local crafts and artifacts are made by the local Batwa craftsmen and women. This activity is very thrilling, fun, and a great way for tourists to mingle with the Batwa people. The Batwa Cultural Experience can also be combined with other activities such as gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, birding, and gorilla habituation experience among others.
Where can I get accommodation when doing the Batwa trail Experience and Batwa Cultural Experience?
Visitors doing the Batwa Trail Experience or Batwa Cultural Experience can find accommodation in the following places; UWA Bandas in Toro Semliki, Mutanda Lake Resort, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Kisoro Travelers Rest Inn, Clouds Gorilla Lodge, and Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort among others.
When is the best season for the Batwa trail and Batwa cultural Experience?
Like any other national park in Uganda, Mgahinga national park and Bwindi impenetrable national park can be visited at any time throught the year. However, the best seasons are always the dry months of January, February , march , June, July, august, September, October and December when the trails are less muddy and easy to penetrate through the forest since the trail is always joined with the Gorilla trekking and the best trekking months are also during the dry season.
The Batwa People are one of the minority groups in Uganda that have for so long been misunderstood by many people and even tourists as well. However, thanks to the creation of the Batwa Trail and Cultural Experiences, the Batwa and their culture is being showcased to the whole world and now we can learn more about their culture, and understand them better.
Book with us a gorilla trekking tour and get a chance to experience the Batwa Trail or Batwa Culture in Uganda.