This is the newest and probably most captivating adventure on the list of activities in Bwindi. You will be spending time with the Batwa forest people. Choosing to visit the Batwa is a choice to learn the secrets of living in the richest forests of east and central Africa.
Batwa translocation from the forest
The Batwa people carry the most recent civilization on earth. They lived in this forest for over six hundred years before they were displaced. In the year 1992 when Bwindi was gazetted into a national park, this group of forest people was dislocated from the forest in the interest of conserving the endangered mountain gorillas that were at the verge of extinction at the time.
The dislocation of the Batwa from the forest has its own negative story to this group of people. However, this Batwa experience tour places the Batwa as experts of life in the forest rather than an attraction. This has given an opportunity for travelers who visit the gorillas to understand the forest beyond gorilla tourism.
This tribe caries the authentic story of the forest, the gorillas and their unique culture, than any other guide. The unique Batwa forest tour comes with their willingness to share their story with you when you visit the gorillas.
Involvement of UWA
The good news is that Uganda Wildlife Authority has fully supported the establishment of this Batwa experience to shock absorb the likely suffering of the Batwa when they can earn a living from the same forest during the process of adapting the life in the modern world. Taking this Batwa experience supports the Batwa, the gorillas and the forest that is equally home to both races. This further offsets the carbon footprint of every traveler who chooses to visit the forest in this unique way.
The Batwa forest experience
This Batwa experience is inside the Bwindi impenetrable National Park. It is in the same forest where you will go for your ultimate gorilla tracking experience. This cultural experience is in two packages. You can choose to take the shorter trail that takes up to three and a half hours or take the longer one that lasts up to five hours.
Only the mountain gorilla can be better than a Mutwa guide, on the forest issues. During this 2-5 hours trek in the forest, you will have the Batwa as the guide. It is a privilege to have a very experienced guide that is part of this forest. You will be inspired when the Batwa prove to you the abundance that is within the forest. This guide will be interpreting both nature and culture as celebrated outside all aspects of luxury in modern life. Everyone including the local community members is new to this forest culture. From looking at the Batwa, you can learn that their participation further gives them the pride of practicing their traditional life. Here they take the joy to introduce new visitors to their way of life.
The Batwa experience tour in this forest is worth a try by everyone who visits the gorillas in Bwindi. It gives a worthy background of this gorilla habitat. You will also realize that the role Batwa played in the conservation of this ecosystem of very high ecological potential was vital for its survival.
Because they have lived in the forest longer than in the community, they still track their life and remember the caves, shrines herbs and many other aspects of the forest that count in their lives. With quite an amount if trekking time, you will be introduced to the secret place and cultural practices of the Batwa people. They used special herbs to cure all kinds of ailments. You will be given a glimpse of how these herbs are collected and processed to cure certain diseases. The practices you will be able to participate in include, natural honey harvesting, hunting carrying water using bamboo, starting a fire from two dry sticks, forest building techniques, and many others.
Prices and packages
The pricing for this product is very friendly and flexible. The Batwa experience is located inside the park. However, if you do this experience on the day before or after the gorilla tracking the park entrance fee is waived. All guests who have not done gorilla tracking will pay the activity fee and the park entrance fee payable at the park gate. The prices for the activity are enlisted by Uganda wildlife authority. This makes it easy to arrange this experience from Bwindi or UWA headquarters in Kampala. Besides, all Ugandan tour operators are well placed to provide information, arrange or book the activity.
A group wishing to do this Batwa forest experience has a minimum and maximum size. The minimum number of people going on this tour is two people and the maximum is six people per group. However if on guest wants to take it alone they will have to pay a fee for two people as the minimum number. Currently, the price for one person is 20$ and the ark entrance fee is 40$. Guests can contact the UWA office during working days/ hours to find out the current prices of the product.
Batwa experiences around Uganda
For those who want to do a Batwa experience without going to Bwindi, another Batwa experience tour is arranged by UWA in Mgahinga. The Batwa trail in Mgahnga costs 80$ including park entrance fee. In Mgahinga it takes 8 hours, a little longer than Bwindi. Other villages around Uganda, that can give a single Batwa experience visit include;
- Buhoma community walk,
- Batwa sanuriro community in Nguringo
- Lake Bunyonyi Kabale
- The Bambuti experience in Semliki national park
Unlike the two long Batwa experience trails in Bwindi and Mgahinga, these other community Batwa points will only show a staged showcase of the Batwa outside the forest habitat. The Bambuti tribe is a sub-group of the general class of the pigmies living in Ituri forest of Congo.
Those wishing to do the Batwa experience in Bwindi forest should come prepared. The trek takes through the forest and wilderness habitat. You should carry your long-sleeved clothing, hiking shoes, rain gear, packed lunch drinking water, and other personal items. We will supply a shopping list on request.