The Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla Park- a day with the original People

Posted by on March 26, 2019

The Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla Park -Authentic Culture

Seeing the Forest through the Eyes of the First People – The Batwa Pygmies

Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla Park allows you to experience the ways of the ancient Batwa People the first  People of the Forest  lived here in harmony with nature and Gorillas until they were evicted in 191 and 1992 and became what is called Conservation Refugees living in the shadow of their former home as squatters and outcasts. 

The Batwa Trail keeps the ancient ways and culture alive. The Batwa People who have lived here for 500,000 years and have gained much wisdom when it comes to the Forest. 

The Batwa, wrongly labeled by movies such as “Gorillas in the Mist” as Gorilla Killers a label that has remained – eviction from the forest without compensation made them become poachers in order to feed their children.

The Batwa, once a proud people whose fierceness was respected by other tribes who had migrated to Southwest Uganda,

Today the Batwa Trail provides an an enriching look into the past and the the present of the Batwa people – gives them pride and dignity, a source of income and you insight into a rich and ancient culture.

 The Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. In 1991 these ancient forests and mountains became Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the Batwa Pygmy People were without a home in the forest.  Since that time they have lived as marginalized people – Ugandans but disdained by other Ugandans as primitive.

They have seen tourists come and spend 600 USD on gorilla permits and visit their ancient land while they have gone without any compensation, without being given new land, living in utter poverty.

“The Batwa Forest Trail” is part of a project to restore dignity and hope by keeping the Batwa  Culture and Traditions alive to the Batwa People, give employment to those who are in involved in the day-to-day project of the “Batwa Trail” from the dancers to the guides, pay for school fees for the children, books and beyond that buy land for the community.

Your participation in The Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla Park is a half – day activity will not only be an informing and interesting time for you but aid the Batwa Pygmy Community.

 The Batwa Forest Trail- Seeing the Forest through the eyes of the First People:

Every culture has an in the beginning story and so do the Batwa People.  The walk starts out with a Batwa elder – actually a middle-aged person dressed in skins telling the story of the Batwa creation and how they became a people of the forest. The Batwa were the original people in this area of Uganda, long before other people migrated here.

Walk along in the shadows of Mount Muhavura (also called Muhabura – meaning the guide) and Gahinga Volcano as your guide stops and kneels down.  Has he spotted an animal but he asks his God to bless the walk as the hunter of old did as they went hunting in the forest of old.

Further down you may stop for a few berries that the hunter used to use for a meal prior to hunting.  Learn the value of plants used for medicine – such as blood pressure and other medical needs.  The black crust of ants nests used for applying to fungal infections of the skin.  You just saw plants – they see a pharmacy.

 One thing you will notice as you see them demonstrating hunting and trapping techniques, starting a fire with a stick, gathering honey,  the huts that they lived in, that they lived a lifestyle with a low impact on their environment and their surroundings.

The Batwa Trail allows them to return to the beloved forest and show others about how they lived and potentially keep some of their ways and crafts such as making bamboo cups, clothing beyond this generation of the Batwa people.

Come to Garama Cave – the former residence of the King of the Batwa People  – no outsider was allowed to enter – but you have special permission.  The cave was also used for the Batwa people to hide from their enemies.

Enter the sacred Garama Cave- going down – if you are a bit claustrophobic – relax – it will be fine.  You enter down – darkness embraces you and you hear mournful chants of the Batwa women – mourning the loss of the beloved forest.  A dim light illuminates the cave and you see them dancing with the words like tears pouring forth – a most meaningful time.

Outside there is celebratory dances and music – enjoy your day with the first people of the Forest – the Batwa people.

 Batwa Cultural Visits Authentic?

This is a question that we are asked from time to time.  They are certainly different from the proverbial Masai Village Visit that many Visitors have done in Kenya or Tanzania.  It is a reenactment as to how Batwa used to live in the forest for thousands of years until they were evicted from them without compensation in 1991 ad 1992 becoming Conservation Refugees watching Gorilla Trekkers spend thousands of dollars while they, the Batwa were on outside looking in what was once theirs.

The Batwa Visits allow Tourists to see the forest through the eyes of the first people of the Forest.  It is meaningful not only tourists but to the Batwa since it allows them to keep their culture alive in the 21st Century.  it certainly is not poverty tourism meant to evoke pity from Visitors.  Most that partake are very glad that they met the Batwa people while Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.

We think that it is way that Dignity is restored to the maligned Batwa People.

 Our Recommendation:

If you are tracking Gorillas in the southern area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or In Mgahinga Gorilla Park then do not miss a visit to the Batwa.

The Batwa Trail in the Mgahinga Gorilla Park can easily be added to your safari, especially if you are tracking Gorillas in the Nkuringo, Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Tracking of Gorillas – Rushaga areas of Bwindi Forest.  Gorilla Trekking can be done in Mgahinga Gorilla Park with the Nyakagezi Gorilla Family that is habituated for Gorilla Tracking.

Other activities that can be done here are day hikes consisting of volcano climbing, birding, nature walks, Golden Monkey Tracking.

Enjoy the Batwa Trail and learn the ways of the first people of the forest, a one of a kind experience in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa



If you are interested in adding The Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla Park to your Safari Itinerary with us – please let us know.