The Batwa trail experience
The Batwa trail experience : If you happen to be one of those tourists who just loves to interact and mingle with the native/locals in the countries that you happen to be visiting, then the Batwa Trail Experience is perfect for you.
The Batwa Trail Experience is a top activity on every cultural tour and itinerary designed by most tour operators in Uganda. This activity is usually combined with a gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Uganda is a land blessed with a lot of natural minerals, wildlife, lakes, rivers, beautiful landscapes and a very diverse cultural base. There are over 52 different ethnic tribes that exist in the country, and the Batwa just happen to be one of the many ethnic groups present in Uganda.
About the Batwa People.
The Batwa are commonly known as ‘pygmies’ because of their short stature. They are among some of the minority groups that have been identified by the international community, and reside within the Great Lakes Regions, in the countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However in these countries, the Batwa prefer to be referred to by specific local names such as; the ‘Twa’ in Rwanda, ‘Barhwa’ or ‘Bambuti’ in the DRC, ‘Abaterambere’ in Burundi, and ‘Abayanda’ in Uganda.
In Uganda, the Batwa inhabit areas in the Southwestern parts of the country, with a large majority found in the districts of Kisoro and Kabale. Their populations are estimated to number between 70,000 to 87,000 people, covering an area of 100,000 square kilometers. The Batwa are originally hunter-gatherers who solely depended on the surrounding forests for their survival. However, with time they were forced out of the forests that were being gazetted as forest reserves and later national parks. This meant that they could no longer depend entirely on the forests and hence resorted to agriculture and for some, animal rarering.
The Batwa are said to have ancestral ties to the forest for centuries, and they are recognized as the original inhabitants of the forests in which they lived. Their vast knowledge of the forest can be seen in their hunting skills, herbal medicines, and tracking methods to mention but a few.
The Batwa live in small groups not exceeding 50 people, often based around members of a particular clan. When a member of the camp dies, the person is buried and the camp is abandoned immediately. The Batwa are known to be mobile, although sometimes they settle down for extended periods of time as clients or tenants of particular farmers, or even village chiefs.
While maintaining their own values and lifestyles, the Batwa also adopt the languages and religious practices of their neighbors. They also share clan names and marriage practices as well.
The Batwa Trail Experience in Uganda.
The Batwa Trail Experience in a popular activity done by most tourists visiting Uganda during their gorilla trekking tour. This activity is considered by many tour operators as a cultural tour that gives the tourists an insight into the rich cultural heritage of Uganda.
During the Batwa trail experience, visitors are taken through the day-to-day lifestyles of the Batwa people. The Cultural Tour experience involves visitors taking part in activities such as; hiking through designated trails in the forest, visiting Batwa homesteads, local herbalists and also being entertained by some performers from the Batwa communities.
The Batwa Trail Experience is conducted by local Batwa guides who have vast knowledge and experience of the forests like Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Visitors are taken through hiking trips in the forest using designated hiking trails that only the Batwa guides know.
This activity is the best cultural experience that any visitor could ask for. The Batwa guides take tourists through long and short trails in order to experience the extra ordinary life of the Batwa people. The hiking expedition begins with a short prayer in whispers to ‘Biheeko,’ the god of the forest. According to the Batwa, ‘Biheeko’ is believed to have powers to protect and deprive one of life while in the forest.
The main highlight of this activity is the Garama Cave, which is a 200 meter long larvae tube that used to act as residence of former kings in the region. During a tour of the caves, visitors are shown areas which acted as the King’s chambers, training wing, granary, and armory among others.
While in the cave, visitors are told old folk tales of how mysterious voices emerge from the multiple chambers with emotional tunes telling of how they used to live, before the forest was turned into a protected area.
Today, the former dark abyss in the Garama cave now has permanent lighting. There are also improved staircases which visitors can use to descend and ascend from the cave. The Batwa Trail Experience ends with sensational Batwa tunes and vigorous ground stamping dance strokes, with visitors invited to join the locals in the dance jubilations.
For a price of USD 50 dollars, visitors can get to enjoy the Batwa Trail Experience during your trip to Uganda. To make your experience even more memorable, you can incorporate other activities into your tour package/ itinerary like; gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey trekking, birding, guided nature walks, a game drive and boat cruise among others. Visitors can also take the liberty and pay a short visit to the famous Lake Bunyonyi, which is located just 7 kilometers west of Kabale town, and is regarded as the third deepest lake in Africa.
In Conclusion; the Batwa Trail Experience is one amazing activity that every tourist visiting Uganda should not miss out. The whole experience is filled with lots of adventure, fun and thrills that will give even the most timid travelers a run for their money.
Book with us a 5 Days gorilla trekking tour and get a chance to embark on the Batwa Trail Experience during your safari in Uganda.